When you're a congressman with no record to run on, your opponent is picking up steam and gaining momentum, and you've voted with Wall Street so many times that the executives probably having the routing number to your campaign account, there's only one logical plan of action: Spend special interest money to mislead the public and smear your opponent on television as many times as you can in the weeks leading up to the election and ignore the issues. With the release of his second negative ad in as many weeks, it's clear that Erik Paulsen is playing by those rules.
It's one thing to run negative ads in a campaign. It's the same old politics that have made everyone so cynical and polarized right now, but whether or not it's a viable tactic is up to the voters.
It is entirely another thing to spend $500,000 of money that came from Wall Street, Big Oil, and the health insurance industry that Jim has spent a large part of his career with the Minnesota Optometric Association fighting to reform, on multiple ad campaigns that are full of lies and distortions designed to distract voters from the fact that he hasn't stood up for the values of his constituents. In return, Paulsen has voted to protect them has turned a blind eye to their abuses each and every time. Some people will do just about anything for the right price.
Jim Meffert released the following statement after the release of the ad:
“I greatly regret that Erik Paulsen has wasted the opportunity, throughout this campaign, to lead a real discussion in our district about how we can start solving the problems we are facing right now. He has wasted an opportunity to raise the level of public discourse. Instead he’s taken the route of the career politician, tearing down his opponent by any means necessary and throwing out as many distractions as it takes to avoid talking about the challenges facing so many people today.
“It is no wonder Congress has a bad reputation. It is no wonder people are cynical about politics and politicians. These tactics only manipulate the public trust and poison our public discussion. I cannot imagine any of Paulsen’s predecessors choosing to take this route. But we will not allow these vile and false attacks to distract or discourage us from our goal of giving the Third District a real voice in Congress.”
Here's a copy of the ad (which he was too ashamed of to even post to his website) for you to see for yourself:
Along with the ad’s baseless and generic claim that Jim is a “big spender,” The Meffert campaign identified at least three glaring problems with the ad:
- The statement that Meffert was “fined for violating ethics laws” is highly misleading. In 2002, the Minnesota Optometric Association moved to a new office and some mail was not delivered right away. When Meffert received the delayed mail, he found that MOA had missed a filing deadline with the Campaign Finance Board. Meffert immediately filed the appropriate papers and paid the fine. The matter was resolved immediately, as the Campaign Finance Board minutes indicate.
- The claim that Meffert would increase takes through raising energy costs cites a report from the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation—by no means a credible source for unbiased policy analysis. The Environmental Defense Fund dissects the many, many problems with the Heritage Foundation’s economic modeling on climate change legislation here.
- Finally, the ad repeats the claim made in the last ad about backing Medicare cuts, “slashing benefits seniors count on” - which was already debunked by KSTP-TV last week. The $500 billion in “cuts” that passed with health care reform aren't actual cuts but reductions to future spending for a program that will still grow significantly in the next 10 years. The health care bill does, however, close the prescription drug donut hole many seniors have been struggling with due to Medicare Part D, in addition to making many other needed improvements to the system. Jim supports these changes and he supports Medicare.
We need help fighting back. Notice that Paulsen failed to mention the work he's done in his two year in Congress. Our campaign has launched a website, How Did Paulsen Vote?, so that voters can see what Paulsen refuses to talk about: The fact that his record and his rhetoric as a moderate don't match up, and never have.
Sign up to volunteer or give a small contribution to help. We all have a choice - let special interest money drown out the issues and allow them to make elections about whatever lies they happen to be peddling, or we can fight back and stand up for the type of politics that can truly help and inspire people. We're on the front lines of that battle. Care to join us?