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Truth Squad: Calley claims credit for comeback

From the Calley campaign video ad.

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is running for governor. But first, he has to get the Republican nomination. His campaign is running a video ad that Bridge Magazine’s Truth Squad finds stretches the truth a bit. 

Let’s go straight to the video. Here’s the main point Brian Calley wants to make to voters.

“I was the driving force behind historic tax cuts and cast the deciding vote to balance Michigan’s budget. What happened? Half a million jobs have been created. We hit the lowest unemployment rate in seventeen years.”

The Truth Squad’s Ted Roelofs says Calley is taking a lot of credit in this ad.

“Especially the 2011 $1.7 billion business tax cut which the ad then links to economic progress in Michigan. So, Calley claims to be a driving force in that legislation,” Roelofs said.

There’s a problem, though, with Calley’s claim. Roelofs says Brian Calley was not governor when those tax cuts were proposed. Rick Snyder was. And he talked about the tax cuts before he teamed up with Calley.

“Call it his (Snyder's) signature campaign issue. So, for Calley to claim some sort of outsized credit for that seems to me to be stretching credulity,” Roelofs explained.

By the way, the ad does not mention the $1.4 billion tax increase for individual taxpayers in the same tax law.

The ad shows Calley in a jogging clothes. He’s running past signs that support his claim to credit for the “Michigan Comeback,” a term Governor Snyder coined.

“I’m Brian Calley, the only candidate who can hit the ground running. Let’s continue the comeback.” [Announcer:] “Brian Calley for governor.”

But, that “Michigan Comeback” didn’t come until the old business tax was killed. Calley had supported that previous tax, the despised MBT or Michigan Business Tax. Roelofs’ research shows in 2007 Calley even had a hand in writing that tax law.

“Brian Calley supported that. He voted for it. He actually helped shape the legislation that passed. And, interestingly enough, there’s a picture at the signing ceremony with Governor Granholm and there’s Brian Calley, a few feet to her right,” he said.

There’s one more Calley claim that’s more difficult to judge.

“I’m Brian Calley. I’ve redefined the role of lieutenant governor."

“How do you prove that one lieutenant governor was more important than another? There’s no sort of metric for that,” Roelofs said.

Roelofs asked a former Republican legislator and current pundit what he thought about the claim.

“Bill Ballenger has been covering politics forever in Michigan. I asked him about that claim. The way he put it most generally was he thought it was essentially over the top, that he redefined the role of lieutenant governor, but he also thought that the relationship between Calley and Snyder was perhaps the closest of any lieutenant governor and governor that he’s seen in modern Michigan political history," he said. 

The Truth Squad questions Calley’s claim that he deserves credit for the current tax law. Especially because it was replaced a tax law he helped write. And Roelofs says the claim that he redefined the role of the lieutenant governor is debatable.

The ruling on the Calley campaign ad:

“We call this one half accurate,” Roelofs said.

You can find Truth Squad reports at bridgemi.com.

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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