Political advertisements generally are so rife with misrepresentations, innuendo and strategic omissions of fact that most informed voters have learned to take them with at least a grain of salt.
But once in a while, advertisements surface that are so egregious, they can’t simply be shrugged off without loudly calling foul.
Such is the smear campaign against Augusta businessman Rick Allen by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the Georgia 12th Congressional District race, where the Republican is taking on incumbent U.S. Rep. John Barrow.
Based on the insinuations, one might think Allen, the founder of a successful construction firm, obtained lucrative government contracts through “insider deals” that drove up costs at taxpayer expense.
But a review of the ad’s claims by the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FactCheck.org revealed they are hooey-laden character attacks.
The ads assume corruption because Allen’s company once received a contract when it wasn’t the lowest bidder – which, in reality, is not unheard of in government contracting. The ads also ignore that voters approved a tax increase to fund the projects, and that Allen’s brother, Charles, a former Columbia County commissioner, abstained from any votes involving the deals.
If there was any evidence of malfeasance, Allen surely would have been brought up on criminal charges years ago.
About the only thing the Democrats get right is that five of Allen’s projects went over budget by a combined $930,000. That sounds like a lot – which is what the ad intended – but it is actually just 3.5 percent of the five projects’ combined total, and less than 1 percent of all government contracts handled by Allen since 1996.
Considering that the federal government’s average contract cost overrun is well into double digits, Allen’s company is downright frugal by comparison.
Critics of Allen’s anti-Barrow ads say they paint the congressman as an Obama sycophant who votes with the president “85 percent” of the time. Truth is, according to a Congressional Quarterly analysis, Barrow is more of a chameleon who votes based on the prevailing political winds.
Barrow staunchly supported Obama when the president was riding high at the beginning of his term, voting in favor of his policies 85 percent of the time in 2009 – including the $830 billion stimulus-bill boondoggle – and 83 percent in 2010.
But as popular support for the president has fallen, so has Barrow’s support, which last year came in at just 35 percent.
Barrow did the same thing during President Bush’s unpopular final years by voting favorably only 24 percent of the time in 2007 and 27 percent in 2008.
Obama’s policies continue to lay waste to America’s economy and weaken its stature abroad, making the Democrat brand as unpopular as ever in the 12th District.
The party obviously is worried, which is why it reportedly has pumped more than $1 million into attacking Allen’s character to mask Barrow’s wishy-washy record.
The party is desperate to bring a Democrat – any Democrat – back to Washington. And apparently it doesn’t matter if they have to do it by dishonestly smearing a respected businessman who has helped build this community – literally.