JACKSON, MISS– When Becky Guidry emailed her representative her concerns over a senate bill that would allocate a $575 million dollar tax cut over the next 15 years, the reply back made her worry even more.
Guidry, of Gulfport, emailed District 46 Representative Karl Oliver the following email, which she then snapped a screenshot and posted on Facebook:
Good afternoon, Representative,
I am writing to you today regarding SB2858, the “Taxpayer Pay Raise Act.” It is irresponsible of our leadership to suggest eliminating income and corporate franchise taxes when: revenue projections are already down; budgets for various services are being cut across the board; funding for public education and other critical services such as child care, foster care, and roads/bridges are underfunded. This tax cut benefits Corporations more so than individuals like you and me. As long as our children are not receiving the benefit of a Fully Funded education, I oppose such a cut. The only way I would even reconsider is if a viable countermeasures were put in place to offset the revenue loss (one example would be legalizing the lottery in Mississippi).
If and when this bill reaches the full House for a vote, again, I urge to you to vote No.
This is how Rep. Oliver responded:
I normally don’t return emails that do not request a response, but I found yours so intriguing I simply felt led to respond. I see you are not a native to the Great State of Mississippi nor do you and I have similar political views. The people of our Great State overwhelmingly share my same or similar views on Government responsibility. I appreciate you going to the trouble to share yours with me, but quite frankly, and with all due respect, I could care less. I would, however, recommend that there are a rather large number of like minded citizens in Illinois that would love to see you return.
With warmest personal regards,
The post has received outrage both on Guidry’s Facebook page and on Twitter. A fake account on Twitter has been created under Representative Oliver’s likeness, saying things like “I believe in the opportunity for all voters in District 46. The opportunity to keep your damn mouth shut.” On this account @RepKarlOliver, the person who started the profile specifies “Not the real Karl Oliver.”
News Mississippi contacted House Minority Leader David Baria about the incident, and he says that this is an unfortunate exchange.
“It reflects poorly on the legislature,” says Representative Baria, “a lot of people outside of the Capitol have a pretty dim view of legislators already…it’s unfortunate because it reflects poorly on all of us.”
While commenters on Guidy’s Facebook page suggest that she should copy this exchange to members of the ethics committee, Rep. Baria isn’t sure this situation calls for that.
“I don’t believe I’m in a position to judge whether anything Mr. Oliver said is a violation of our House ethics rules,” he continues, “she is entitled to take whatever action that she deems necessary.”
“I don’t think this is an ethical issue in my own judgement, but a poor choice of words and an attitude that needs to be adjusted with some understanding that comes with serving in the legislature with some time.”
This is Rep. Oliver’s first run at the state House. Rep. Baria believes that his lack of experience and poor choice of words plays into the situation.
News Mississippi also spoke with Becky Guidry, the author of that email to Representative Oliver. Guidry says that while she is no member of a particular group, she has written her representatives numerous times regarding her political concerns, be it financial or educational.
Guidry says she wasn’t expecting the post–which at this point has well over 600 shares– to go viral. And she’s not expecting much else to happen.
“When he has spoken to the media, he doesn’t seem to think he said or did anything wrong,” says Guidry. She doesn’t believe she will get an apology, as she hasn’t gotten one at the moment of writing this article.
News Mississippi will continue to follow this story as it plays out.