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August 2, 2014

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Truth Squad:

Titus, Porter each skirt truth in ads

Anti-Titus ad

Porter ad gets Titus stance wrong on several issues

Republican Rep. Jon Porter is attacking Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus in a TV ad, accusing his challenger for the 3rd Congressional District seat of being on the side of special interests.

The Script: Narrator: “Dina Titus. We know she quadrupled her pension, then voted to raise our taxes. It gets worse. Titus sided with big money special interests funding her campaign and even voted against reforms to improve our schools. She voted against pay raises for top teachers, against increased accountability, and Dina even voted against giving local schools control of class sizes. Dina Titus. Whose side is she on? Not ours. The special interests.”

The Video: Opens with a grainy black and white video of Titus putting on her glasses at a microphone. The screen goes black and then the phrase “It gets worse” appears. Against the black backdrop, money appears on the screen along with two hands shaking. Then a photo of Titus shrugging, with the phrase: “Titus sided with special interests.” Next, students in a school hallway and the phrase: “Titus voted against school improvement reforms.” Next is a clip of what looks like a teacher and a student and the phrase: “Titus voted against pay raises for top teachers.” The video then shows shots of classrooms and the phrase “Titus voted against increased accountability,” and then the phrase “Titus voted against local control of class sizes.” It closes with the earlier picture of Titus bouncing on the screen and then displayed twice in mirror images with the words “Special Interests.”

The Reality: This wide-ranging ad tags Titus with the “special interests” label but uses the term in a vague manner without specifying which ones or how Titus supposedly sided with them.

The pension claim is true but old. In 1989, as a freshman legislator, Titus voted to increase pensions of state legislators from $25 per month for each year of service to $100. She voted to repeal the measure after public outcry over the increase.

The claim of raising taxes is also true, but both the 1991 and 2003 measures referenced in the ad had broad bipartisan support.

The ad becomes more blatantly misleading when it moves to education:

By referencing only a vote from almost 20 years ago, it falsely characterizes Titus’ stance on performance pay for teachers. In 1989, Titus voted against a merit-based pay system for teachers, but she said at the time that she supported such a system but didn’t like this particular bill. And in 2007, she supported a pilot program giving performance-based pay increases to teachers.

Implying Titus does not support accountability in schools is also false. She voted against a measure proposed early in the 1999 session but supported a more comprehensive bill addressing school accountability later in the session.

And claiming that Titus voted against giving schools control over class size might imply she opposes small class sizes. Titus voted against two bills that would have allowed some schools to increase class size beyond the student-to-teacher ratios laid out by the state’s class-size reduction program.

Titus ad shades truth in reaction to GOP attack

Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus is running a TV ad in response to Republican Rep. Jon Porter’s latest ads saying she raised taxes and is in the pocket of special interests. Titus’ ad says her 3rd Congressional District opponent supports Big Oil and votes with President Bush.

The Script: Dina Titus: “I’m Dina Titus. I approved this ad to set the record straight. Jon Porter is spreading the same lies Jim Gibbons did. And look where that got us. In the Legislature I got a cap on property taxes passed into law and I support real tax cuts for working people. Jon Porter voted in lock step with Bush. He gave Big Oil billions in tax cuts and left us with the bill. That’s the difference and why we need to change Washington.”

The Video: Titus, against a white screen, talks directly to the camera for the entire ad as various phrases appear on the screen along with her name. First “Straight Talk,” then “Capped Property Taxes” and next “Real Tax Cuts for Working People.”

The Reality: One goal of the ad is to connect Porter to two unpopular Republican figures, Gov. Jim Gibbons and President Bush. With Gibbons, the ad steps into disingenuous territory. Porter’s latest ads call Titus out for two major tax increases. Gibbons successfully capitalized on this in his campaign against her for governor, calling her “Dina Taxes,” and Porter is using the same strategy. Titus’ ad claims Porter is “spreading the same lies as Gibbons” — without specifying what lies — but the attacks on her record on tax increases have validity. However, both tax increases, in 1991 and 2003, were in response to fiscal crises, had broad bipartisan support and were proposed by the state’s governors at the time, one a Democrat and one a Republican.

Titus takes credit for the cap on property taxes when in fact the measure was built on a consensus between both parties that something needed to be done to stave off the huge increases homeowners were facing in their bills. Though Titus was a major player as Senate minority leader, her own plan to freeze homeowner tax bills for one year didn’t pass the Republican-controlled Senate. She certainly influenced the debate, but a cap on property taxes would probably have passed regardless and many members of the Nevada Legislature can claim credit.

The ad repeats a common but false claim about tax cuts for oil companies that’s often made by the Democrats to chastise Republicans. Porter did support the 2005 energy bill, which provided more than $14 billion in subsidies for energy companies. However, most of those were for nuclear power, energy-efficient cars and buildings, and research into renewable fuels. Ultimately, the bill produced a net tax increase for oil and gas companies.

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