Election • Complaint centers on NRCC ad.
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Rep. Jim Matheson wants Utah's TV stations to stop running a Republican ad he says inaccurately attacks him.
His campaign's lawyer sent a letter to Utah's stations Thursday arguing the National Republican Congressional Committee created an ad that inaccurately implies he supported federal health reform and bailouts, when he voted against them.
"The latest NRCC ad, quite frankly, has claims about me that are not true," Matheson told The Salt Lake Tribune. "And they actually put my head on someone else's body, which is quite interesting. I don't own a cream-colored sport coat, I can tell you that."
The NRCC is defending its ad and arguing Matheson has taken "politically convenient positions."
"This ad is 100 percent accurate," said Daniel Scarpinato, an NRCC spokesman.
The NRCC notes Matheson voted against repealing health reform, commonly dubbed "Obamacare," in 2011, though Matheson voted against the bill when it was first debated and earlier this year voted for its full repeal. The NRCC also touts his vote in favor of a bill that propped up the real estate giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, calling it a bailout, though Matheson voted against the Wall Street and auto bailouts.
Federal candidates can petition TV stations to block third-party ads that are factually inaccurate, though stations tend to take a fairly broad view of what is acceptable. Candidates are not allowed to file similar complaints against their opponents' ads.
On Oct. 4, Matheson's opponent, Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, challenged an ad sponsored by the Patriot Majority USA super PAC that attacked her for a rising crime rate in her city.
Love said the false numbers Matheson cited are still being used in ads against her.
"I know that the truth is stronger [than] lies," she said, "and as long as we keep telling voters where I stand on the issues and our plan to change Washington, we'll keep up the momentum we have through to Election Day."
Like the Matheson letter, Love's campaign relied on news reports, including in The Tribune, that have refuted similar claims as relying on misleading statistics. Patriot Majority USA responded with a snippet from the minutes of a City Council meeting and noted that violent crimes in her city increased from two in 2009 to 10 in 2010.
Utah's TV stations have not pulled the Patriot Majority USA ads, and Love's campaign has not pushed the matter further. The stations have yet to respond to Matheson's request.