Political ad put to the truth test

October 31, 2008 4:09:45 PM PDT
One candidate for U.S. Congress is using one of our news stories to bash his opponent. So we wanted to take a closer look at the ad. Political ads, we've found, take a kernel of truth and draw conclusions from it. Almost every campaign does it, but we found it done with the truth meter in one ad.

"And the award goes to John Culberson for attacking Michael Skelly on the economy," the ad contends.

Democrat challenger Michael Skelly continues to aim right at John Culberson's record in his new spot running for the last few days.

"John Culberson is in Congress and voted against oversight of sub-prime loans, against earmark reform and for running up the national debt to 10 trillion dollars," the ad tells viewers.

The first bill the ad relies on says very little about mortgage oversight. It was aimed at reaching underserved borrowers. The second bill Culberson voted against would've created more oversight, but it also could have raised mortgage fees for borrowers.

Culberson's campaign says he's voted for several other oversight bills. It is a mixed record for the truth meter.

On earmarks, Culberson's used them many times for billions of dollars worth of projects in and out of his district. He does support rules requiring disclosure and has listed his earmarks on his website since 2002.

As for running up the national debt, Skelly says Culberson is responsible because he's been on the appropriations committee for years. That seems a bit of a stretch, especially since Democrats have controlled Congress since 2006.

"John Culberson, one conservative group said his economic policies were, 'a world class failure,'" the ad continues.

We feel somewhat compelled to set the record straight here. The source for that line is the truth meter and it's very flattering to be included in a political ad, but it's not entirely true. That conservative think tank is the American Enterprise Institute and it said one bill that John Culberson supported would have been a world class failure, not the entirety of the congressman's economic policy.

"I'm Michael Skelly and I approved this message," the ad concludes.

We're trying to crank our truth tests out as fast as we can, but on Thursday, Skelly started running another ad. It is a change in tone from this ad and recites his credentials. It is what you start to see as campaigns move towards election day 'get out the vote' drives.

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