Campaign Check: Lies and Half-Truths Outed

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May 21st, 2010

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By Joe Garofoli + Carla Marinucci, THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

Each Friday until the June 8 primary, The Chronicle will publish a few of the “lies, half-truths and contradictions” uttered by the California statewide campaigns and their supporters from the previous days.

The Statement The Distortion
In TV and online ads, Steve Poizner says that rival GOP governor hopeful Meg Whitman campaigned for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2004. In one of her TV ads, Whitman countered she “strongly opposes” Boxer and is “working hard to defeat her.” In 2004, Whitman contributed $4,000 to Boxer’s re-election campaign and served on Technology Leaders for Boxer in her re-election battle against Republican California Secretary of State Bill Jones. Whitman said she supported Boxer in 2004 because the senator opposed Internet taxes – but so did Jones. (Jones, incidentally, appears in another ad for Whitman, touting her Farm Bureau endorsement.) Whitman gave $250,000 to the state GOP last year and helped raise $1 million for the party to use in all races, not just Boxer’s.
The radio and TV spots for “Yes on 17″ from Californians for Fair Insurance Rates, the group backed by Mercury General Insurance, claim that “a flaw in California law prohibits drivers from taking their ‘continuous coverage’ discount with them if they switch insurance companies.” Mercury General Insurance has spent $10.2 million to pass this measure promising car insurance “discounts.” But consumer advocates say the ads don’t mention that thousands of drivers could also get steep rate increases under this measure, including many students, members of the military and low-income people whose insurance has lapsed. Such surcharges are illegal under Proposition 103, the state’s landmark 1988 insurance measure.
In a mailer sent to California Republicans, U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina uses quotes from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and the National Tax Limitation Committee that are critical of her rival, former South Bay Rep. Tom Campbell. Neither organization has endorsed Fiorina. Both low-tax groups have endorsed Assemblyman Chuck DeVore for Senate. Any mailer that suggests otherwise, said Howard Jarvis President Jon Coupal, is “deceptive.” National Tax leader Lew Uhler said Fiorina’s “campaign’s dishonest tactics are a disgrace” and demanded an apology.
In a Spanish-language radio ad, Steve Poizner uses a clip of former Gov. Pete Wilson, Meg Whitman’s campaign chair who is loathed among many Latinos for taking a stand on illegal immigration, through Proposition 187, that is harder than Whitman’s. The Poizner ad said: “Don’t you hate it when politicians say one thing to one group and something else to another.” It also says, “We may not always agree with (Poizner), but he isn’t playing games.” Wilson’s Prop. 187 position on illegal immigration is very similar to Poizner’s hard-line stance. In addition, since he entered political life 10 years ago, Poizner has changed his position on other issues, such as Proposition 39, which made it easier to raise taxes for school bonds. He has also changed his position on taxpayer funding of abortion, which he now opposes.

– Catch up with the latest campaign lies, half-truths and contradictions on The Chronicle’s Politics Blog at www.sfgate.com.

- Joe Garofoli, jgarofoli@sfchronicle.com; Carla Marinucci, cmarinucci@sfchronicle.com

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