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Editorial: Democracy takes yet another hit

If you are looking for examples of how money in politics is perverting democracy, a recent TV spot targeting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is a good place to start.

On Aug. 26, Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative super PAC founded by former TD Ameritrade CEO Joe Ricketts, began airing an ad titled “Cronyism,” which claims that “Shaheen’s wealth has surged while in public office.”

“News reports,” the ad states, “raise questions about Shaheen’s family profiting from her votes in Congress.”

Those claims just don’t hold up under scrutiny.

In the matter of Shaheen’s supposedly surging wealth, the ad used data from opensecrets.org, which reported that Shaheen’s net worth climbed from $3.4 million in 2008 to $5.4 million in 2012. But as factcheck.org reported last week, the current figures – based on Shaheen’s most recent financial disclosure statement in May 2013 – place her net worth at $2.7 million. That amounts to a 21 percent decline since she was elected to the Senate.

Brian Baker, the president of Ending Spending, defended the data on which the ad is based, telling politifact.com that only assets, not liabilities, should be taken into consideration. The problem, of course, is that the very definition of net worth is total assets minus liabilities. To discount liabilities in determining personal wealth is nothing more than manipulation of statistics.

As for the “family profiting from her votes in Congress,” the truth is something other than what the horror movie voiceover would have you believe.

It’s all about breast cancer research.

According to a June 24 article in the Boston Globe, Shaheen’s husband, Bill, had a financial stake in a federally funded breast cancer research program through his role as an adviser to a company called Ultrawave Labs Inc.

In 2009, Ultrawave received $78,000 in federal stimulus money, the Globe reported, and lobbied “both houses of Congress and several government agencies, including the Department of Defense, on breast cancer funding, dovetailing with the senator’s own work to support the Pentagon’s breast cancer program.”

The supposedly self-serving vote the ad refers to is the nearly $820 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was approved in February 2009 by a 60-38 vote in the Senate. Factcheck, however, points out that the $78,000 for Ultrawave wasn’t earmarked until four months after the Senate signed off on ARRA.

This isn’t the first political ad to manipulate data, and it certainly won’t be the last. But that doesn’t mean voters should throw up their hands and say, “What are you gonna do?” Instead, they should demand that those who wish to represent them stop playing them for fools.

Candidates from both parties rely on the perception of separation between themselves and ads paid for by outside groups attacking their opponents. It allows them to wear a halo while perched above the fray.

Following Wednesday night’s 2nd Congressional District debate, state Rep. Marilinda Garcia said, “I’m not allowed to communicate with any organizations running ads against him (opponent Gary Lambert) even if I wanted to.”

That’s the real problem with these ads: They encourage flight from accountability.

Anybody who cherishes the Founding Fathers’ vision for America should understand that this brand of politics has no place in a more perfect union.

Legacy Comments12

Best PBR, I always like to read your comments as the rest of us need a good daily chuckle. As an aside, how do you pick which words to capitalize?

Best PBR...LOL!

This is exactly why the Monitor is slanted. The Monitor gives free ads to progressive candidates. Why no mention of people running ads against Scott Brown? Shaheen's husband did profit from his wife supporting the lobbying for breast cancer research, no matter how noble the research might be. I am sure that he was paid for his advisory role at the very least.

This paper is the evil that they whine about. This massively partisan liberal RAG wants to eliminate others constitutional rights while all the while remaining free to spew their venom. The height of Hypocrisy.

Then why do you waste your time reading (or is skimming more accurate?) it and our time wading through your posts. Does BestPres not fit the dictionary definition of an internet troll?

Cool - I still have my own stalker and AGAIN she offers absolutely nothing to the discussion again and AGAIN - liberals ......sheeeeesh

BestPres, are you implying that your initial post had any substance whatsoever? Not stalker, buddy boy, truth-squad!

To be part of a "truth squad" one first needs to operate from a standpoint of speaking the truth. I think that you were recruited for the truth squad in error.

I don't bother with PBR's trolleries any more. They're all the same. Read one, you've read 'em all. I love the part where he talks about OTHERS spewing their venom.

Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., fighting to salvage his Presidential campaign, today acknowledged ''a mistake'' in his youth, when he plagiarized a law review article for a paper he wrote in his first year at law school. Mr. Biden insisted, however, that he had done nothing ''malevolent,'' that he had simply misunderstood the need to cite sources carefully. And he asserted that another controversy, concerning recent reports of his using material from others' speeches without attribution, was ''much ado about nothing.''

If Laurie told me it was a sunny day I'd make sure I had my umbrella

and you would remain uninformed

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