Florida State Senator Thad Altman (R-Melbourne) has certainly led a high profile agenda lately with filing a lawsuit against Republican Governor Rick Scott over a High Speed Rail Project for Florida which was supported by the Crist and Obama administrations. The Tea Party In Action then retaliated with ads blasting against Sen. Altman's policies.
When responding to a question over his $1 a pack tax increase on cigarettes two years ago, former Governor Charlie Crist infamously quoted Ronald Reagan by saying, "If you want to kill it, tax it." Whether Governor Crist meant killing the use of tobacco or his own political career by that statement is still unclear.
Like former Governor Crist, Thad Altman went on to recently support a cigarette tax on Dosal, a small Florida tobacco manufacturer, which also drew criticism from the Florida Tea Party In Action.
But its not just the Tea Party in Action that is upset with Sen. Altman. During the last two months, Sen. Altman has sponsored legislation for corporate welfare for just a handful of companies and industries in Florida (Senate Bills 790, 1080, 1224, 1470, 1730, and 1866.)
As reported by Brevard Times in a previous article titled "While Independent Restaurants Get Hammered By Economy; Darden Gets Handouts, Tax Breaks," Sen. Altman's Senate Bill 1470 has drawn a lot of criticism because it would only benefit only one company - Darden, Inc., parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Capital Grill, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, and Long Horn Steakhouse. Senate Bill 1470 would allow Darden to apply tax credits to its sales tax liabilities.
This bill would essentially create a fraud upon Darden's subsidiary restaurant customers where they would be presented with a check that includes 6% Florida sales tax, but Darden would not have to turn around and remit that entire 6% back to the State of Florida.
Additionally, it would create an unfair margin advantage against competing Florida restaurants who do have to remit their entire 6% sales tax to the state.
Senator Altman's sponsored legislation is in direct conflict with the Republican Party's 2008 economic platform, which states:
"Today’s Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives. The Republican Party will put a stop to both social engineering and corporate handouts by simplifying tax policy, eliminating special deals, and putting those saved dollars back into the taxpayers’ pockets."
Sen. Altman's legislation is reminiscent of Charlie Crist's peculiar alignment with Democratic issues prior to his announcement that he would run as an Independent for the Florida U.S. Senate seat. So if another Tea Party candidate comes around next election cycle with favorable polling results for the Republican primary, will Thad Altman pull a Charlie Crist and run as an Independent?