Flake denies signing Norquist no-tax pledge

When asked by the debate moderator whether he had signed the pledge, Flake said "no."

"The only pledge I'd sign is a pledge to sign no more pledges," Flake added. "We've got to ensure that we go back and represent our constituents in a way -- I believe in limited government, economic freedom, individual responsibility. I don't want higher taxes. But no more pledges."

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But Flake is listed as one of the 238 Representatives from the current Congress who've signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asserts that any signatory oppose an increase in taxes and a decrease in deductions. The pledge is pushed by Americans for Tax Reform, an advocacy group founded by Grover Norquist that works to prevent tax increases.

However, Flake spokesman Andrew Wilder said that Flake didn't say that he never signed it, affirmed that he had in the past, but that the language has changed since he originally signed it and he now takes issue with the revised language.

"Jeff Flake has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in the past, but the language of the pledge was changed last year and Jeff does not support the revised version, specifically the language that pledges to 'oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.' Jeff Flake's comments in the debate were completely accurate, he has not signed the Senate Taxpayer Protection Pledge," he said.

The language of the pledge originally signed by Flake is as follows:

"I, ___________, pledge to the taxpayers of the (________ district of the) state of _________ and to the American people that I will: ONE, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and businesses; and TWO, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

The language of the revised pledge, which Flake has not signed, is as follows:

"I, __________, pledge to the taxpayers of the _______ district of the state of _______ and to the American people that I will: One, oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses; and Two, oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates."

The portion of the new pledge that Wilder said Flake does not support was included in the original pledge, which Flake signed. Wilder was unable to explain the discrepancy.

Democratic candidate Richard Carmona's communications director Andy Barr released a statement shortly after the debate slamming Flake for "lying" about the pledge, and also targeting him for what Barr characterized as his flip-flop on immigration and his failure to bring federal funds to the state.

"With those remarks, Congressman Flake proved that he's a career politician who will do and say anything to stay in office," he said.

--This post was published at 10:42 p.m. on Oct. 10 and updated at 12:38 a.m. on Oct. 11.