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Living in mom's basement? Defending sex offenders? Campaign ads level harsh attacks

Posted at 4:23 PM, Nov 01, 2018

With election day less than a week out, campaigns throughout Michigan have ramped up their attacks ads—with and without the facts to back them up.

Living with mom?

An ad put out by congressional candidate Lena Epstein claims that her opponent, Haley Stevens, “moved into her mom’s place to run for Congress.”

The ad shows a fictional mother and father, urging their lazy son to move out of their basement. He refuses, saying if Stevens can do it, he can too.

But Stevens doesn’t live in her parents’ basement. According to her campaign, she rents an apartment in Rochester Hills owned by her mom, who lives elsewhere in Birmingham.

Stevens also isn’t new to Michigan, as the ad suggests. She was born here and graduated from Seaholm High School before heading to Washington. She returned to Michigan in early 2017.

No coverage for pre-existing conditions?

An ad attacking Congressman Mike Bishop accuses him of “hurting Michigan families” by voting “17 times to dismantle healthcare for millions, and to let insurance companies deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

It’s a fact that Bishop voted to repeal Obamacare, which would have allowed insurance companies to deny coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. But in 2017, he voted for a Republican healthcare bill that protected coverage for pre-existing conditions.

However, the Republican bill could have made that insurance way more expensive, possibly making it unaffordable.

Defending sex offenders?

An ad attacking attorney general candidate Dana Nessel claims her “law firm specialized in helping men get away with the most heinous acts.”

“They once questioned a young victim’s memory in order to get their client not guilty of molesting a five year old girl,” the ad says.

It’s a fact that Nessel’s former law firm represented an accused child molester and helped secure a not guilty verdict, but the ad doesn’t point out that Nessel wasn’t a lawyer on the case.   

The ad continues: “They bragged about preventing sex crime charges and worked to convince judges to drop protective orders.”

It’s true that the small firm’s website once touted success stories involving cross-examining alleged rape victims, but Nessel didn’t handle those cases. The ad also doesn’t mention that, as a prosecutor, Nessel put sex abusers in jail.

Unlimited pay?

Finally, there’s an ad urging you to vote no on Proposal 2, the proposed constitutional amendment that would change how the state draws political districts, putting power in the hands of a newly-formed independent commission instead of politicians.

“Proposal 2 lets 13 new redistricting commissioners vote themselves unlimited pay and unlimited perks, guaranteed in your constitution,” said the ad’s narrator.

The commercials tries to make you think that the newly-formed commission will pay itself huge salaries, and while it’s theoretically possible, it’s a huge leap.  The ballot proposal says commissioners should be paid at least 25% of the Governor’s pay—which would be about $40,000 a year—but it doesn’t set a cap.

Still, the misleading ad is relying on scare tactics rather than substance to swing your vote.