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Thursday, Jul 19, 2018
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Koch Network takes aim at Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's successful effort to gain a newly-minted federal tax break that could benefit a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark in Ybor City has gained the attention of a group founded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch.

On Thursday, Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-funded group, issued a news release criticizing Buckhorn's advocacy to have an Ybor City census tract made eligible for a economic opportunity zone designation.

"The only ones who will benefit from this lopsided deal are crony politicians and the Rays' ownership. The audacity of the team to insist that they will only pay for $150 million of a potentially $800 million project is emblematic of the entitled mentality that drives these corporate welfare schemes. Taxpayers deserve better," the release stated.

The tax breaks were created through President Donald Trump's tax-cut legislation late last year.

AFP emerged into a national force with the rise of the Tea Party about a decade ago. Recently, the group has been active in defeating transit initiatives like one in Nashville.

So far, an effort to put a sales tax referendum on the ballot in Hillsborough County this November  hasn't drawn attention from AFP.

The plan would be to raise the sales tax from 7 cents to 8 cents for 30 years, starting in 2019. If approved by voters, the tax would raise about $280 million per year.

Buckhorn, a Democrat, wasn't available for comment Thursday.

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