Las Vegas Sun

April 18, 2014

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truth squad :

Anti-Titus ad is laced with digs, distortions

The Sun examines the political commercials to determine what’s fair and what’s not.

Anti-Titus ad

Freedom’s Watch, a conservative Washington-based lobbying group largely funded by Sheldon Adelson, is running a TV ad that mocks Democrat Dina Titus’ Southern accent and focuses on taxes in her race for the 3rd Congressional District against incumbent Republican Jon Porter.

The Script: “Dina Titus. She must be from Texas. Dina voted for the biggest tax increase in Nevada’s history. She voted to tax us by raising taxes on small business and to tax us when we buy a house. Titus never had enough tax money to spend. So why tax us? Titus wants to give scholarships to illegal immigrants and quadruple her state pension. Tell Dina Titus don’t tax us.” (The announcer uses an exaggerated Southern accent when pronouncing “taxes” and “Texas.”)

The Video: The ad opens with a picture of Titus and the outline of Texas with the words: “Dina Titus must be from TAXES.” The screen changes and another photo of Titus appears with a money sign and the phrase: “Dina Titus Voted for Biggest Tax Increase $863 MILLION.” Next: a shot of Titus’ face from one of her ads paired with a sepia-toned photo of a broken down, Old West-style hotel with the phrases: “Dina Titus Voted to TaxUs” and “Raising taxes on small business.” The pattern repeats with other photos of Titus and sepia-toned images that echo the Great Depression and phrases from the script. Then there are a man and a woman looking stressed over paperwork and “Dina Titus” with the words “So Why TaxUs?” over the image of Texas. More images of Titus are paired with phrases from the script and stacks of books, then stacks of money. It ends with a screen cap of Titus from one of her ads and the phrase: “Tell Dina Titus No more tax increases.”

The Reality: For starters, Titus is from Georgia.

It is truthful to say Titus voted for the largest tax increase in Nevada’s history — she did — and the bill did raise taxes on businesses and added one on real estate purchases, but as Truth Squad has pointed out before, the measure was introduced by a Republican governor to stave off a budget crisis and had broad bipartisan support.

The ad uses the present tense when making claims about Titus’ stance on scholarships for illegal immigrants and wanting to increase her state pension, but those issues are no longer on the table. In 2007, Titus voted for a bill that denied financial aid to illegal immigrants. Titus did, however, support an amendment to that bill that would have made illegal residents eligible for the state’s Millennium Scholarships if they signed an affidavit saying they intended to become a citizen. The amendment didn’t pass.

It is also simply wrong to say she “wants” to raise taxes to increase her pension. Although she did vote to quadruple her pension, she did so in 1989, along with most of the Legislature. Titus voted to repeal the pension increase at a special session a few months later that was called after a public outcry. The issue has not come up since then.

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