Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 2 a.m.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running its third ad attacking Republican Rep. Jon Porter, the incumbent in the 3rd Congressional District. Porter faces state Sen. Dina Titus.
The Script: “Jon Porter has been on easy street. On the streets of Washington, Porter took over $380,000 from financial interests and voted them billions in tax breaks. On Wall Street, Porter voted against cracking down on CEOs who cash in with lavish pensions as a company goes under. But on our street, home values plummet and our retirement is at risk. It’s time for change.”
The Video: It opens with a photo of a smiling Porter, a white stretch limousine and a street sign that reads “Easy Street.” Then, with the same picture of Porter, the background changes to a photo of the Capitol and a street sign that reads “South Capitol.” Text reads: “Jon Porter took $380,000 from financial interests” and “voted them billions in tax breaks.” The background changes to champagne glasses. Next, paired with the same photo of Porter, the background is a building on Wall Street and a street sign that says “Wall St.” The building is replaced with a video of a yacht and the phrase “Jon Porter voted against cracking down on CEOs’ lavish pensions.” The background changes again to a photo of a suburban neighborhood and a street sign that reads: “main street.” Finally, there is a black screen and the sentence “It’s time for change.”
The Reality: Like the previous DCCC ads targeting Porter, the goal of this ad is to connect Porter’s campaign contributions to his votes. The ad cites accurate numbers but somewhat distorts the picture by using totals from Porter’s political career since 1989. The money from financial interests, which refers to three sectors — commercial banking, securities and investments, and finance/credit interests — is a small percentage of Porter’s overall contributions.
Saying he voted for billions in tax breaks for those interests isn’t quite accurate. Though Porter did support Bush’s tax cuts on capital gains and dividend investment income, the cuts were for individual taxpayers, not corporations.
Another source for the tax breaks claim is the 2004 American Jobs Creation Act, which responded to European trade sanctions imposed on American exports and repealed an export subsidy the World Trade Organization had ruled was illegal. Although the bill gave large tax breaks to companies with overseas operations, the ad unfairly leaves out the context behind them.
Porter did oppose taxing executive golden parachutes by voting against an amendment to the Pension Security Act in 2003 that would have imposed an excise tax on executive pensions.
Overall, juxtaposing a few of Porter’s votes with the current economic crisis is unfair.