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January 31, 2015

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Ad attacks widely backed Titus votes

Freedom’s Watch, a conservative lobbying group heavily funded by gaming mogul Sheldon Adelson, is running a second ad targeting 3rd Congressional District candidate Dina Titus. The ad accuses the Democratic state senator of “taking care of herself” only.

The Script: “It’s an economy in crisis. Nevada families are struggling. Many face foreclosure or putting off retirement. But Dina Titus has always taken care of herself. She voted to raise her state pension — not doubling it or tripling it. She voted to quadruple her state pension. Then Dina Titus saddled us with the biggest tax increase in Nevada’s history. Tell Dina Titus less spending and no more taxes — especially now.”

The Video: Opens with a blurry image of a trading floor and the text: “it’s an economy in crisis.” Then a photo of a man looking worried and the phrase: “families are struggling...” Up next are two photos of women looking worried and one of a home for-sale sign with the text: “Many face foreclosure...” and “Many are putting off retirement...” Next, on a gray screen, is a video of a talking Titus from one of her own ads and the text: “Dina Titus has always taken care of herself.” Next is a photo of Titus with a red stripe under her name and the text: “Voted to raise her state pension.” Numbers flip by going from 0 to 100 percent, then 100 to 200, then 200 to 300, matching the script on the pension. When the numbers land on 300 percent the text changes to: “voted to quadruple her State pension.” Next is a couple doing paperwork and the phrase: “Voted for the biggest tax increase in Nevada’s history.” Then a red stripe cuts across the screen with the number: “$863 million.” It ends with a video of Titus on stage and the text: “Tell Dina Titus less spending and no more taxes ... especially now.”

The Reality: Truth Squad has addressed these claims before. Yes, Titus joined a majority in the state Senate in voting to quadruple legislative pensions in 1989 — when she was a freshman senator and wouldn’t be vested in the pension for nine more years and only after winning two more elections. She voted to repeal the measure a few months later, after public uproar over the measure. Titus takes an unpaid leave of absence from her better-paying job as a professor to serve in the citizen Legislature when it meets. Public records show that amounts to more than $200,000 in salary and benefits forfeited. Saying Titus “has always taken care of herself” unfairly amplifies one vote 19 years ago.

And yes, Titus voted for the largest tax increase in Nevada’s history, as did almost all the other legislators. The state was facing a budget crisis and the tax fix was proposed by Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn. (The bill that passed was an $836 million increase adopted during the 20th special session. The larger number cited by the ad is from a bill that failed in the 19th special session. It took two acrimonious special sessions to agree on the details of the tax hike.)

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