- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - An attack ad launched by a super PAC supporting David Vitter’s campaign for governor says his GOP rival Scott Angelle wants to “tax the Internet” and collect $900 more a year from each Louisiana taxpayer.

Angelle’s campaign fought back Wednesday, saying the ad is deliberately misleading, and that if anyone is forcing people in Louisiana to pay sales tax for their Internet purchases, it’s Vitter.

At issue is a 30-second ad running in north Louisiana by the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, which criticizes Angelle for supporting passage of a federal law that would require companies to collect state sales taxes on Internet purchases. Vitter, a U.S. senator, voted against the legislation, known as the Marketplace Fairness Act.

Angelle, a state utility regulator with the Public Service Commission, has said it’s only fair to treat online retailers the same as brick-and-mortar stores.

People in Louisiana are already supposed to pay these taxes even if companies don’t collect them, according to a 1994 law that Vitter supported when he was in the state legislature. Vitter was among 75 lawmakers who approved charging sales tax on products bought by mail from catalogs, television shopping channels and other sources, according to the legislature’s official journal.

“If it costs them $900 a year, then it’s not Scott that’ll cost them that. It’s David Vitter that cost them that,” said Angelle’s political and media consultant, Roy Fletcher. “Scott Angelle didn’t have much to do with it.”

The state revenue department says Louisiana consumers must pay sales taxes directly to the state on Internet purchases if an online company like Amazon doesn’t charge the tax. But few people do, costing Louisiana and other states millions of dollars in revenue each year, a problem only remedied with a federal law.

Joel DiGrado, executive director of the Fund for Louisiana’s Future, suggests Angelle’s campaign is mixing two different issues.

“We stand by our ad, and we feel that it’s well-cited. We believe we have Scott Angelle saying he supports the Marketplace Fairness Act, and Sen. Vitter voted against that same policy,” DiGrado said.

The super PAC isn’t allowed to coordinate with Vitter’s campaign, which also rejected the Angelle campaign’s claims that Vitter is the true Internet taxer.

“I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t making any online purchases in 1994. Sen. Vitter has opposed the Internet sales tax at least three times in the Senate,” Vitter campaign spokesman Luke Bolar said in an email.

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