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December 18, 2014

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truth squad :

Porter ad calls Titus a ‘self-serving’ pol

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

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Republican Rep. Jon Porter is running a new ad attacking his opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race. The ad accuses state Sen. Dina Titus of being a “self-serving politician.”

The Script: “Pensions lost. Savings slashed. Retirements delayed. We’re all feeling the pain. Well, everybody but Dina Titus. While our retirements were in jeopardy, Titus voted to quadruple her taxpayer-funded pension. She was even caught double dipping, taking two salaries from the state. To help pay for all her shady schemes she voted for 25 different tax hikes. Dina Titus: a self-serving politician we can’t afford.”

The Video: Opens with an image of a dollar bill and then a graph with the text “pensions lost,” “savings slashed” and “retirements delayed.” Next up is a black and white photo of a smiling Titus over the graph and the phrase: “Everybody but Dina Titus.” An empty rocking chair is then shown next to the photo of Titus with the sentence: “retirement savings jeopardized.” The video next shows Titus talking in one of her own ads and the sentence: “Titus voted to quadruple her pension.” Next the screen splits Titus’ face, paired with the line: “Titus was caught DOUBLE-DIPPING DOUBLE-DIPPING.” The next screen shows money being counted with the phrase: “To help pay for her shady schemes.” Then a black and white screen capture of Titus from one of her ads is shown over the money with the sentence: “Titus voted for 25 tax hikes.” It ends with another black and white shot of Titus from her own ad.

The Reality: Much like Porter’s latest ad, this one fudges past and present. Titus did vote to quadruple legislative pensions — in 1989. At the time, Titus was a freshman senator and wouldn’t have been eligible for the pension for nine years, after winning two more elections. Titus and the rest of the Legislature voted to repeal the pension increase after a loud public outcry.

The double-dipping claim is unfair. Nevada has a citizen Legislature that meets every two years. During legislative sessions Titus takes an unpaid leave of absence from her job as a professor at UNLV. The ad references a Sun article about Titus’ attending a couple of state meetings in Carson City before the start of the 2005 session while she was still getting paid by UNLV. Titus began her unpaid leave a few days later. The university said Titus didn’t violate any university regulations and was still adequately doing her job during the few days she was in Carson City.

The ad also repeats a false claim from Porter’s previous ad, contending Titus voted 25 times for tax hikes. That is untrue. Some of the votes cited by the Porter campaign were for tax exemptions, not increases. Another was only an administrative change to when tax revenue was distributed in one county. Many of the other measures were small tax increases for narrow purposes, such as a one-quarter of 1 percent tax in certain counties for operation and maintenance of a public swimming pool. Titus voted for two major tax increases in 1991 and 2003 that were efforts introduced by the governors at the time to stave off budget crises and that received bipartisan support. She also supported a 10 percent tax on live entertainment.

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