- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 22, 2000

RICHMOND George F. Allen, the former governor and Republican challenger for U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb's seat, yesterday continued to hammer his opponent over a gas tax increase Mr. Robb sponsored in 1993.

At a news conference at the state Capitol yesterday, Mr. Allen charged that Mr. Robb still supports raising the tax by 50 cents a gallon a proposal Mr. Robb made as Senate Bill 1068 in 1993 despite Mr. Robb's repeated claims to the contrary.

The bill would have phased in a 50-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase over five years, with the end of reducing the budget deficit and promoting energy conservation, according to the text Mr. Robb submitted.

Mr. Robb's spokesman said the senator no longer supports the tax, and that by making an issue of it, Mr. Allen is distorting Mr. Robb's record.

Mr. Allen yesterday accused Mr. Robb of using multiple explanations in trying to justify the bill.

"Nowhere in the bill does it say it's just a study, nor does it ever say in there it's to stimulate debate, nor does it say that any of the 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax revenue would go to road construction. The bottom line is that Charles Robb likes higher gas taxes," Mr. Allen said.

But Mr. Robb's campaigners say that's just not the case.

"Bottom line is this: George Allen's attack is categorically false, and he knows it. I guess he never learned the lesson that repeating a falsehood doesn't make it true," said Mo Elleithee, Mr. Robb's campaign spokesman, yesterday.

"Chuck Robb has said crystal clear, more than once, that he does not support the 50-cent-a-gallon gas tax increase," Mr. Elleithee said. "He has said that on many occasions. He has said that to George Allen. But George Allen ignores that."

Mr. Allen calls that election-year politicking, and predicted Mr. Robb, if re-elected, will find a justification for introducing another gas tax increase.

As his evidence, Mr. Allen produced a list yesterday of what he called the "Top 11 different reasons Chuck Robb has given for his 50-cents-a-gallon gas tax hike," including Mr. Robb's statements from debates and articles this year.

One piece of evidence is on Mr. Robb's Senate office Web page distinct from his campaign Web page where he still touts the increase as part of his record on the environment.

In a section titled "Energy independence and conservation" the text points to the 1993 bill and calls it "a bill to reduce the federal budget deficit and encourage energy conservation through an increase in the motor fuels excise tax."

Mr. Allen argues that doesn't sound like a man who is running from his record.

In an Aug. 5 debate between the two, when Mr. Allen accused him of wanting to raise the gas tax, Mr. Robb didn't flatly deny it instead, he said he was "not advocating" the tax and hadn't reintroduced the bill since 1993.

The Allen camp has been predicting the gas tax proposal will resonate it was among their first challenges to Mr. Robb's record, and continues to be a favorite for the campaign in mailings, speeches and even a recent television ad by the state Republican Party.

Virginia Democrats responded with an ad of their own arguing Mr. Allen was distorting the record. The Robb campaign feels Mr. Robb has been clear on the issue. Mr. Elleithee said that by continuing to campaign on this, Mr. Allen is showing he's showing he doesn't have the credibility to be U.S. senator.

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