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ICYMI - PolitiFact Rates Claim Behind NRSC Ads Attacking Senators Hassan and Warnock As "False"

In case you missed it, a new fact check from PolitiFact rated the central claim in the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) ads attacking Democratic Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Ralph Warnock (D-GA) as false. The PolitiFact report, which specifically examined false attacks against Senator Warnock, found that the NRSC’s ad was filled with falsehoods. Especially notable is the fact that the NRSC didn’t even respond to PolitiFact’s “queries seeking evidence” for the claims made in the ad targeting Senator Warnock. The NRSC used very similar false claims in the ads against Senator Hassan.

Key Excerpts:

  • A voting rights bill authored by Democrats includes a provision — to provide public financing of campaigns in some circumstances — that Republicans have derided as "welfare."

  • After the For the People Act failed to proceed in the Senate, the National Republican Senatorial Committee launched an ad attacking Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., for supporting the legislation. (Warnock won his Senate seat in a special election this year and would be up for re-election in 2022.)

  • The NRSC didn’t respond to our queries seeking evidence, but it looks like they are referring to a provision that provides public matching to small dollar donations to Senate campaigns. (There is a similar counterpart in the House legislation.) The law isn’t "welfare," and the $25 million estimate is based on a maximum match. [...]

  • The matching dollars would come from a new "Freedom From Influence Fund" — which would come from 4.75% surcharges on federal criminal offenses and settlements. If the amount in the fund comes up short, such matching dollars would be provided on a pro-rata basis. The legislation states: "No taxpayer funds may be deposited into the fund."

  • "I do not think the ‘welfare for politicians’ phrase is accurate," said Michael Malbin, a University at Albany political scientist and expert on campaign finance. "This is a subsidy to enhance the value of small-dollar donors. It is not meant to, and would not, benefit politicians directly."

  • The idea of small donor matching programs is not new — and it is not only for Democrats.

  • Presidential candidates from both major parties used a presidential public financing program between 1976 and 2008 until it became outdated, said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, an organization that promotes democracy. That includes former President Ronald Reagan, a Republican.

  • "If they are claiming this is welfare for politicians, they are claiming Reagan was a beneficiary of welfare for politicians, because he used the system run in 1976 when he lost and in 1980 and 1984 when he won," Wertheimer said.

  • Wertheimer was involved in crafting the public financing law in the 1970s, as well as the provisions in the For the People Act.

  • For decades, multiple states have provided their own campaign public financing programs.

  • For example, Florida voters in 1998 approved a constitutional amendment for matching funds for statewide campaigns. In 2018, Republican Ron DeSantis, who won the governor’s race, received more than any other candidate in matching funds, nearly $3.23 million. His opponent, Democrat Andrew Gillum, received $2.62 million from the program. [...]

  • The NRSC ad says Warnock "voted for welfare for politicians plan. Up to $25 million of government money for Warnock’s own political campaign."

  • We rate this statement False.


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