Local Elections

Fact Checker: House candidates attack each other in new ads

Fact Checker: House candidates attack each other in new ads (10-25-12)

BOZEMAN, Mont. - Until now, Montana's airwaves have largely been dominated by ads attacking the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates, but now U.S. House candidates Steve Daines and Kim Gillan are entering the fray.

Democratic candidate Gillan's new ad goes after her opponent's stance on healthcare. "Steve Daines supports essentially ending Medicare," it says.

It is not true that the Republican Daines supports ending Medicare. It is true that he supports Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan's 2012 plan for Medicare reform -- a system that would allow future retirees to shop for private health plans or opt for traditional coverage. The changes would not affect current beneficiaries or anyone older than 55.

"... to fund tax breaks for millionaires like himself," the ad continues.

It is true that that Daines qualifies as a millionaire. I combed through his financial disclosure information and found his reported assets total between $5 million and $24 million.

It is also true that Daines supports lower tax rates, and not just for millionaires. In fact, he opposes any tax increases, saying Washington needs less spending, not more revenue.

"And he wants to take away a woman's right to choose, even for victims of rape," the ad says.

I emailed Daines' campaign manager to check his stance. He only supports abortion when the mother's life is at risk.

Daines' ad starts off attacking Gillan on the issue of jobs, with a clip of her saying, "I don't even know what a job creator is."

The video comes from a recent debate over tax rates, in which Gillan argued that business owners aren't the only ones who create jobs. She says company workers do as well.

The ad continues: "Gillan voted for more than 50 tax increases, including a sales tax, hurting small business."

I checked Montana House and Senate archives, and it is true Gillan cast dozens of votes for tax increases during her 16 years in the legislature. However, some of those votes were for the same bills in different legislative stages. It's also true that Gillan voted with Republicans in favor of a sales tax, but it was part of a larger plan to lower property taxes. 

"Gillan supports Obama's EPA that eliminates energy jobs," the ad says.

I asked Gillan about environmental regulations earlier this month. She told me she believes in balancing the protection of public health and local energy jobs.

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