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0000017b-35e5-df5e-a97b-35edaf330000Michigan Radio is covering the major candidates and issues for the upcoming election. Scroll below to find stories and resources that will help inform your vote.And NPR is having an election night party complete with the latest national results. Head on over the NPR Election Party now!

Truth Squad rules a "flagrant foul" on outside ad in race for governor

Several political campaigns during the primaries got very nasty. Things haven’t been quite so nasty in the governor’s race … yet.

Most of the ads we’ve seen about Gov. Rick Snyder and challenger Mark Schauer have not been ads the candidates bought. Outside groups produced them and aired them.

The Democratic Governors Association paid for an ad attacking Republican Gov. Snyder.

The whole 30-second ad hammers away at a theme Schauer has been making. That is: Snyder helps out business at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. But the Truth Squad says it veers from the facts here:

“Rick Snyder says he makes tough choices like cutting over a billion dollars from education. That’s tough on kids.”

That’s why this ad got a “foul” call from Truth Squad. David Zeman explains.

“It gilded the lily a little bit on the school cuts saying that the governor had made more than a billion dollars in cuts to schools since he took office, when actually his cuts are more in the $930 million range, which is still significant. The rest of the cuts were cuts from the federal government,” Zeman said.

Gov. Snyder would say even that is wrong. He claims school spending has actually gone UP on his watch. It all depends on how you calculate things.

Snyder is counting dollars that went to shore up the teacher pension system – which freed up money for schools to put into the classroom.

It comes down to your political perspective.

These outside-funded ads are intended to help a candidate or hurt the opponent, but David Zeman notes they can be a mixed blessing.

“The Democratic Governors Association has really been doing most of the ads for Schauer, which in a way is good for him because he really doesn’t have the money that the governor has. On the other hand, you have this outstate entity that’s really driving what the message should be for this candidate,” Zeman said.

On the other side, the Republican Governors Association has run a series of ads. Three of them did not earn a foul from the Truth Squad. But this fourth one earned a "flagrant foul."

This ad from the Republican Governors Association was ruled a "flagrant foul" by the Truth Squad.

Narrator: “Mark Schauer is a politician who has made wrong, expensive choices. Some defy reason. In the state Legislature, Schauer supported a new fee on nursing home beds.”
Actor: “Fees on nursing home beds?”
Narrator: “Michigan’s coming back without more fees on nursing home beds.”

The nursing home fee did not “defy reason.” The Truth Squad says it benefited nursing homes by allowing the state to get additional Medicaid funds to reimburse those same nursing homes. They got more money. And Gov. Snyder has supported and extended this same fee.

The one TV ad from one of the candidates’ campaigns is a Snyder ad featuring  small business owner Stacey Marsh.

This ad from the Snyder campaign gets a "no foul" call from the Truth Squad.

“He is the most phenomenal listener. What Rick taught me was whatever you do, you have to have passion and you have to bring your family into it. Rick looks at the state of Michigan and all the people in it as part of his family. Rick wants to help people, the moms, and the dads, and the kids. He really wants to help.”

The Truth Squad ruling? David Zeman says "no foul."

“It’s what candidates do, and I found it to be, you know, pretty effective. Although, you know, our focus is not whether it’s effective or not or effective. Our focus is whether it sticks to the facts and there’s really not much to scrutinize in terms of whether the governor’s a great listener or not,” Zeman explained.

So, when outside money is involved in the gubernatorial campaigns, it seems the ads stray from the truth. We’re going to see a lot more ads from the candidates and from out-of-state groups heading into the general election in November. We’ll have to see whether the candidates stake out their own messages or follow the lead of their outside benefactors.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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