Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2014

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truth squad :

Ad reiterates unfair claims about Titus

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

Summary: Rep. Jon Porter is running another attack ad in the increasingly negative 3rd Congressional District race between the Republican and his challenger, state Sen. Dina Titus. This ad calls Titus greedy.

The Script: “It isn’t right. We work hard and play by the rules, yet we’re losing our homes, losing our savings, all because of the greed of others. People like Dina Titus. While our hard-earned retirement savings dwindle, Titus voted to quadruple her taxpayer-funded pension and later was caught double-dipping, taking two state salaries at the same time. To help pay for it, Titus backed 25 painful tax hikes on Nevada families. Dina Titus should be ashamed.”

The Video: Opens with headlines from newspapers, followed by video of Titus with the text: “Dina Titus,” “While our savings dwindle,” and “Titus voted to quadruple her pension.” Next with a video clip of Titus holding a notepad up to cover most of her face is the phrase: “Titus was caught double dipping.” Then behind that screen is video of money being counted. It ends with another shot of Titus from one of her own ads.

The Reality: These claims have been made repeatedly by Porter in his TV ads. Distorting the time line of the current economic crisis with one of Titus’ votes from 19 years ago is particularly egregious given the insinuation that Titus is benefiting from the struggles of others.

Because the ad calls Titus greedy, it’s worthy to note the dollar amount of the pension: It went from $25 to $100 a month. Titus voted for the 300% increase in 1989, when she was a freshman lawmaker and not vested in the pension (and wouldn’t be unless she won two more elections). It was repealed shortly after in response to public complaints.

The double-dipping claim is also unfair. During legislative sessions, Titus takes unpaid leaves of absence from her job as a professor at UNLV. The claim refers to a few days before the 2005 Legislature, when Titus attended state meetings in Carson City. Her unpaid leave from UNLV wasn’t scheduled until a few days later. The university has said she didn’t violate any regulations and was still doing her professor duties while in Carson City. Serving in the citizen Legislature has cost her more than $200,000 in salary and benefits.

As Truth Squad reported the last time Porter made the claim that Titus voted for 25 tax hikes, it’s false. In her career as a state senator, she voted for two major increases, in 1991 and 2003. Both were proposed by the governor at the time — one a Republican — to stave off a budget meltdown and garnered broad support from both sides of the aisle. The other prominent increase was a 10 percent tax on live entertainment. Some of the other “painful tax hikes” were actually exemptions to taxes. One was an administrative change in when the county distributed tax money to cities. And most of the measures were minor increases for specific local purposes, such as a one-quarter of one percent tax in certain counties for operation and maintenance of the county swimming pool.

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