Facts Or Fiction: Ad Targets Jane Norton
Third Party Ad Attacks Senate Candidate Norton After Pro-Ken Buck Ad Last Week
Last Updated: 1037 days ago
Leading up to the November election, 7NEWS and TheDenverChannel.com will check the accuracy of political ads.Do the ads contain facts or fiction?7NEWS checked the facts or fiction of a political ad paid for by Americans for Job Security against Republican Senate candidate Jane Norton. AD: "Our country is at the brink. Colorado families and workers need relief " (fine print citation: Obama "stimulus", budget). NARRATION: FACT; CITATION: FICTION As of May 2010, Colorado's unemployment rate was 8 percent, with 213,763 people out of work. That's the highest unemployment rate in Colorado since July 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In July 2009, the unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, with 219,935 people out of work. Based on the unemployment data, the statement workers need relief is not inaccurate.The citation, however, is opinion and confusing. The ad, itself, doesn't reference anything specific to the stimulus legislation. Based on the text of the stimulus bill, the purpose was to:
Preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery
Assist those most impacted by the recession.
Provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health
Invest in transportation, environmental protection and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits
Stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases
On Wednesday, the White House estimated the stimulus created or saved between 2.5 million and 3.6 million jobs. Although, the national unemployment rate for June 2010 is 9.5 percent.
" ... yet Jane Norton supported the largest tax hike in Colorado history, costing us billions." (fine print citation: Colorado Referendum C; on screen text: $6 billion tax hike).
NARRATION: FACT, YET MISLEADING; ON-SCREEN TEXT; FICTION
Voters approved Referendum C in 2005 with 52 percent of the vote. Referendum C allowed the state to keep money that would have otherwise been refunded to taxpayers as part of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) from July 2005 until June 2010. According to data compiled by the state's legislative council staff, during those five years the state kept $3,593,400,000 it would have had to refund. In 2008-09 and in 2009-10, the state did not keep any money that would have had to be refunded.It's FACT that the state kept billions of dollars, but MISLEADING because each individual taxpayer would have received a much smaller amount in a TABOR refund. A rough calculation to figure out how much an average taxpayer would have been refunded reveals an average taxpayer would have received a total of $1,326 in the past five years.2009-10: No refund would have resulted. 2008-09: No refund would have resulted. 2007-08: $1,169,300,00 would have been refunded to 2,866,596 taxpayers (taxpayer data from the Colorado Department of Revenue 2009 annual report, showing the number of tax returns for fiscal years 2005-2009). Average TABOR refund: $408. 2006-07: $1,308,000,000 would have been refunded to 2,678,941 taxpayers. Average TABOR refund: $488. 2005-06: $1,116,100,000 would have been refunded to 2,596,480 taxpayers. Average TABOR refund: $430.The on-screen text reference to "$6 billion tax hike" is FICTION. Based on the examples shown and linked above, the actual amount kept by the state was $3.6 billion, not $6 billion. The term "tax hike" is debatable because it was a not a new tax, but rather the state keeping a tax refund it normally would have refunded.Had Referendum C not passed, the state would have had to cut or reduce spending by $3.6 billion, since it would not have collected that much more in taxpayer money.The Norton campaign provided 7NEWS with this statement regarding the candidate's support of Referendum C.
Jane Norton says Referendum C was an unfortunate consequence of the worst recession in state history. Passing it meant the state did not have to close colleges, let prisoners out early, or cut services to the elderly. As part of the Owens Administration, Norton helped to cut taxes 46 times while reducing the waste in government. Norton is a proven fiscal conservative, and has challenged President Obama and Senator Bennett to stop the spending that will devastate this country.
"And Jane Norton's record on government spending? The state bureaucracy she managed grew by $43 million in just three years." (fine print citation: State of Colorado Joint Budget Committee).
FACT Norton was the executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment from 1999 until 2002. The department's budget is made up of state and federal funding and cash funds from fees. From fiscal year 1999-2000 through fiscal year 2002-2003, the total budget of the department increased from $226,879,837 to $269,531,584 or a total of just less than $43 million. During that same time frame, the state's contribution to the Health Department dropped $7.5 million, but the overall budget increased because additional federal funding and cash funding from fees.Source: Joint Budget Committee annual internal working document, Feb. 4, 2010; pdf page 6.
"Record taxes and reckless spending has cost Colorado jobs."
FICTION Again, "taxes" can be debatable because Referendum C allowed the state to keep money it otherwise would have refunded, but did not create an additional tax. The reckless spending comment is linked to the state Health Department budget from 1999-2002, which is a different time frame than the current job loss figures. Colorado's unemployment rate has risen from 3.6 percent in May 2007 to 8 percent in May 2010, but not as a result of the state Health Department's budget from 1999 to 2002.
"Call Jane Norton. Tell her no more tax hikes and big government spending." (on screen text: 303-488-2010).
ON SCREEN TEXT: FACT The phone number provided by Americans for Job Security is Norton's campaign phone number. This is OK. Stephen DeMaura, president of Americans for Job Security, told 7NEWS that the group used Norton's campaign office number because it's the most publicly known number for people to reach her. Since she doesn't hold an elected office, the group chose the most public number versus her home number. There's no federal campaign violation because the group doesn't support Norton, so there can't be an appearance of coordination or combining money.In a previous Facts or Fiction on another Americans for Job Security political ad in favor of Norton's opponent Ken Buck, 7NEWS explained why the third party group had to use Buck's Weld County District Attorney's office phone number and not his campaign office phone number.Since it's a third party ad, by a tax-exempt group, the group cannot specifically endorse a candidate or their campaign. That would be a violation of federal campaign laws. The Weld County District Attorney's phone number is OK for Americans for Job Security to use, but if someone calls that number they're supposed to be directed to the campaign office.
"Americans For Job Security is responsible for the content of this advertising."
FACT Americans for Job Security paid for the ad. DeMaura told 7NEWS, the ad was airing in Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction. He said it cost six figures, at about the same cost of the Buck ad from last week.