Misleaders of the Pack

It was a banner election season for obfuscation.

It's difficult to believe that state Attorney General Rob McKenna is suing only Moxie Media of Seattle for possibly misleading voters during this year's just-ended election season. It was Moxie's mystery ads that helped unseat incumbent Democrat state senator Jean Berkey of Everett—mystery because it's not clear who exactly paid to have them run. In some instances, Moxie itself did; Berkey, who finished third in the primary, calls that a "shell game." The same term would seem to apply to other ads, mailers, and claims from dueling camps in what appears to have been the most misleading political season since the state's truth-in-campaign law (which prohibited candidates from lying) was struck down five years ago. A few examples: • Republican Rep. Dave Reichert claimed that Democratic opponent Suzan DelBene supported specific stimulus projects such as the study of exotic ants and the creation of a joke machine. In fact, federal agencies, not Congress, decided how the stimulus money would be spent, and DelBene was not a member of Congress anyway. Reichert's ads nonetheless pictured DelBene with House speaker Nancy Pelosi. • DelBene, in a commercial, claimed Reichert "promised he'd never raise taxes and then turned around and voted for $31 billion in higher taxes on families and small businesses." Actually, Reichert voted against a bill that continued $31 billion in tax credits for individuals and businesses. • The Washington State Republican party criticized Democratic state Rep. Troy Kelley of Tacoma for his votes supporting "record-breaking spending increases." In the same mailer, the GOP criticized him for supporting spending cuts. • U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi, who boasted about how he balanced the state budget while in Olympia, said he could cut $800 billion from the federal government immediately. He'd cut the $275 billion in remaining stimulus money and $30 billion in federal employee raises; he'd save $35 billion by reducing the federal workforce and $400 billion by ending the TARP bailout. "I just gave you about 800" billion dollars in reductions, he said. "It's all there." Actually, it's half there. About $388 billion of the TARP money has already been spent. • People for Jobs, a pro-business political action committee, sent off at least three mailers targeting state Rep. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, including one that focused on the theft of $431,376 from a victims'- compensation fund—which Marr had nothing to do with. He was also criticized for voting to support the Olympic marmot as the state's official endemic mammal. • In a press release, Sen. Patty Murray said Rossi insulted "millions of American troops and others who serve their country" when he told radio host Laura Ingraham "You have a bunch of people that are in charge that have never actually had a private-sector job and a meaningful one in their adult life." Said a Murray spokesperson, "It is quite simply disgraceful that Dino Rossi would say our troops, teachers, police, and firefighters' service to our nation is not meaningful in any way." Rossi was answering a question regarding only White House staff. • A TV ad sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee claimed Murray voted for "a failed stimulus that didn't create jobs." According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, stimulus legislation "increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million" in the second quarter of this year. • Third District Democratic congressional candidate Denny Heck repeatedly claimed Republican opponent Jaime Herrera wants to privatize Social Security. She doesn't. Herrera, conversely, said "America's economy is under fire and it's happening on Denny Heck's watch." At press time, Heck was not an elected official. Yet.

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