Separating fact and fiction in campaign ads

Author: Ian Cull, KXLY4 Multimedia Journalist, ianc@kxly.com
Published On: Oct 11 2012 06:37:25 PM PDT
McKenna Inslee graphic
SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's hard to watch TV without seeing negative attack ads against Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee, as both try to become our Washington's next governor. But how much fact and fiction are in those attack ads?

The two will spend 60 minutes debating Thursday night, although it seems that amount of time in your day is already taken up with 30 second political ads. So we chose two ads airing now and did a fact check on both.

One attack ad against Rob McKenna claimed, "as attorney general McKenna lobbied to increase his salary up to $148,000, all while trying to use his office to block a 12 cent increase on minimum wage."

The truth is Washington's minimum wage increases with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) so when the economy turned in 2008 and the CPI fell, there was no increase. When the CPI started to come back to where it was before, McKenna argued the wage should remain the same.

While McKenna's salary did increase, it was in 2007 and 2008 when there was a budget surplus in the state. According to the Washington Citizen's Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, other state employees were getting raises as well. In 2007, it was a two-percent raise and his salary hasn't changed since then.

There's also an attack ad airing against Jay Inslee. In it, a paramedic from Seattle says, "every shift there's a chance I'll get hurt, that's a risk I signed on for, that I accept."

An announcer then comes on and says, "Jay Inslee proposed a risky plan to invest state pension funds in start-up companies, putting the retirement of our first responders and their families at risk."

The first responder then adds at the end, "I didn't sign up for that."

The truth is, Inslee did mention many companies are starting up in California instead of Washington because there's more capital there. So, he suggested the state help fill the gap with a part of the state pensions.

According to the Washington State Council of Firefighters, legislators proposed a similar bill in the house in 2005, but the Investment Board "testified in opposition at the hearing because it would divert them from their goal of maximizing returns, the legislators dropped the idea."

The WSCFF says Inslee also dropped the idea and hasn't pursued it since. The firefighters council even released a statement saying the sponsors of the ad were making a stretch and act of desperation.

One truth in both ads was that both were paid for by political action committees and neither were endorsed by the candidates. 

If there's something in this campaign you'd like us to fact check, email me at ianc@kxly.com.