This week Suzanne Bonamici’s campaign unleashed a memorandum of complaints regarding opponent Rob Cornilles’ latest television ad. The National Republican Congressional Committee is chipping in for part of the cost of Cornilles’ ad buy.
The memo is addressed to members of the Oregon media and lists three "False attacks" within the Cornilles’ ad that the Bonamici folks say have been discredited by independent news analysts. Yours truly, PolitiFact Oregon, is on the list:
False Attack #2:
AD: "She voted for higher taxes and fees on the middle class and small business."
On January 2, 2012, The Oregonian’s PolitiFact found this attack to be so FALSE that it was rated "Pants on Fire."
"We can’t accept their explanation that punishing unemployment benefit cheats or allowing the state to go after people who haven’t paid taxes is a new tax or fee."
We’re astonished with the Bonamici campaign’s interpretation. The quote about punishing unemployment benefit cheats contained in the media release is certainly ours, and the ruling is accurate, but that is not the statement on which we ruled. We ruled on his statement that Bonamici "voted for 60 tax increases."
Let’s make this clear: It is 100 percent true that Bonamici has voted for higher taxes and fees while in the Legislature. What Bonamici hadn’t done while in the Oregon Legislature was vote for 60 tax increases. This statement was the subject of an earlier ad by the Cornilles’ campaign, the one we ruled Pants on Fire.
We found Bonamici had voted for 14, maybe 16 tax increases, at least 32 fee increases and 14 bills that should in no way have been included as a tax or fee increase, such as legislation to punish unemployment benefit cheats. All of that combined prompted our ruling of Pants on Fire.
Carol Butler, Bonamici’s campaign manager, said she found it incredible that we would fact check a press release when there are so many outrageous statements coming from the Cornilles’ campaign. She said she saw no difference between the Cornilles’ campaign’s two statements on tax voting, as they both intend to mislead voters.
We see a big difference. Here’s what the Bonamici people didn’t include from our original PolitiFact:
"It’s fair to say that Bonamici can’t recall ever voting against a tax increase or fee hike. It’s fair to say that she has one of the most liberal voting records in the Legislature. It’s fair to say that she has voted for big-ticket tax increases that have infuriated conservatives in Oregon. Cornilles could have stuck with that script and his statements would have been True."
We note that on Wednesday, the Bonamici campaign launched a new ad that correctly states that we gave Cornilles a Pants on Fire for "more false attacks on Bonamici and taxes.":
The Cornilles’ campaign claim that "she voted for higher taxes and fees" is spot on. The Bonamici campaign is twisting a PolitiFact for its own campaign purposes. We rule that a Pants on Fire.