The Denver Post’s editorial board scolds the city and the Democratic convention committee for its tax-free gas habits, as revealed more or less accidentally at a city council meeting this week. They also wonder aloud how much the city and state will have to shoulder of the costs, as the financial footing of the convention seems very weak — and some contracts haven’t even been signed:
So, let’s get this straight: While the rest of us poor schlubs have been grimacing as we put $4 a gallon gas into our cars, local organizers of the Democratic National Convention have been pumping tax-free gas into theirs?
That’s just wrong. The local committee hosting the DNC ought to pay the same state and federal taxes — which amount to 40 cents a gallon — that the rest of us pay.
The disclosure came at a regular Denver City Council meeting Tuesday, and by the end of the day it seemed that everyone involved was quickly backpedaling and promising that local organizers indeed would be paying taxes on gas.
Good. But the larger issue, of course, is whether and how taxpayers might find themselves subsidizing the DNC. We’ve hit this before, but it merits another visit as the DNC bears down on Denver.
The Post doesn’t mention this, but it’s also hypocritical on another level. Democrats in Congress want to raise the federal gas tax on the rest of America, but at the same time actively evade paying it. And the excuses are pretty rich, as the Post does note. Hickenlooper tried telling the press that the DNC needed “secure” gas pumps for fill-ups when transporting VIPs, but would anyone fill the tank while transporting them through the city? Of course not; they’d do it before or after, not during.
This was no mere error, either. The city actually contracted out for the fuel service, with a contract that supposedly pays the city almost a half-million dollars. That suggests a deliberate evasion on the part of the city as well as the DNC. Even more curious, the contract has not yet been signed — so technically the city can’t collect anything at the moment. Is Hickenlooper using city funds to subsidize the DNC’s efforts?