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Exploring the fine print of political ads


You probably haven’t had the time or inclination to look into the fine print on all of those negative political ads we’re being bombarded with, so I’ve done it for you.

Political ads often include sources, usually a newspaper story or official document, to add a sense of authenticity to their claims. I never paid much attention until a few years ago when I noticed that one of the stories I had written was cited as the source for a claim that I knew was untrue.

Almost all of the negative ads involve money. They play into the perception that all politicians are in it to line their own pockets. And they add to the cynicism and distrust people have in not just politics, but the entire governing process. But they must be effective because we see them every election.

An ad by NEA Advocacy fund cites an Alamogordo Daily News story from 2016 as the source behind an allegation that Republican congressional candidate Yvette Herrell “push(ed) a half a million dollars to an organization run by her family.”

When I called up the story, all it showed was that Herrell had joined with the other legislators from Otero County in securing $525,000 for renovation of the Plaza building. The remainder of the story only included comments about what a wonderful thing that was.

The Plaza building was acquired by the county with plans to work with the local historical society to create a museum. The historical society is headed by Herrrell’s mother.

That’s the link they’re relying on to convert a routine capital outlay appropriation into some nefarious plot to siphon off public money.

Herrell has responded with an ad featuring her mom, who calls the allegations a lie.

That same ad claims U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, Herrell’s opponent, votes with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi 95 percent of the time, without citing a source. An ad by the National Republican Congressional Committee says it’s 90 percent, and cites Pro Publica as a source.

Pro Publica says Torres Small has voted against her party 6.3 percent of the time, making her the 137th most reliable member of the caucus.

The same NRCC ad tells us Torres Small supports the Green New Deal, even though she doesn’t. Their proof is the fact that she has collected some $175,000 from various environmental groups like the Sierra Club. According to campaign finance reports, Torres Small has raised more than $4.5 million. It’s not surprising some of that would be from environmentalists.

My favorite part of that ad is the visual graphic, which includes an anarchist’s symbol next to a bullhorn.

An ad by the Congressional Leadership Fund tells us that Torres Small is “posing with a gun to connect with you.”

It is a stunt a lot of politicians try to pull off at election time. But Torres Small is from Las Cruces, and a lot of us knew her back in the days when she was the wife of a politician. It’s no pose. For better or worse, she loves her guns.

Which is why Torres Small was one of only seven Democrats to vote against a bill expanding the time limit on background checks. But, her vote in favor of expanded background checks meant a D grade from those bastions of purity at the NRA.

Torres Small and Herrell are offering very different visions for our state and our nation. There are plenty of distinctions for voters to consider without having to make either candidate into something she is not.

Walt Rubel can be reached at waltrubel@gmail.com.

Walt Rubel