Advertise Here

Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: ad watch

AdWatch: Otter touts brand in western-themed campaign commercial

Barely over a week out from the primary election, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has launched his first TV campaign commercial, showing him in a cowboy hat, riding a horse, and touting tax cuts and how he’s “fought EPA.” “I follow the Code of the West, stay true to your brand and your values,” Otter says in the ad, referring to a cowboy ethics code published in a 2004 book by Wall Street veteran James P. Owen entitled, “Cowboy Ethics: What Wall Street Can Learn from the Code of the West.” The code has 10 points, including, “Live each day with courage,” “When you make a promise, keep it,” “Ride for the brand,” and “Remember that some things aren’t for sale.” You can read my full story here, including an examination of the claims in the ad.

Ad Watch: Latest school reform commercial echoes earlier one

The latest TV commercial in favor of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 comes from “Yes for Idaho Education,” and features a message strikingly similar to that in a September statewide ad from “Parents for Education Reform.” The look is different, with video of teachers and kids in class, and there's different music, but the message is the same; it pulls out a feel-good item from each of the three complex measures and touts it as what the propositions will do. It does add in a jab at the “national teachers union” that was missing from the earlier ad. “It is essentially the same general positive message we’ve had in initial TV, in radio ads, and on our direct mail absentee chase,” said Ken Burgess, spokesman for the “Yes” campaign.

Click below to compare the wording of the new “Yes” ad and the previous ad from PFER, which was the group that placed the ads funded by secret contributions to Education Voters of Idaho; you can read my fact-check story here from Sept. 28, which was headed, “Ad touting school reforms tells just part of story.”

The  new “Yes” ad is running only in the Boise, Twin Falls, and Idaho Falls/Pocatello markets, Burgess said, adding, “We've left the Gov. Otter ad in place for our full run in Spokane.”

Ad Watch: Otter steps forward in latest school reform ad

The latest campaign ad in Idaho's school reform fight features Gov. Butch Otter endorsing Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in a positive, feel-good message. “Education in Idaho is at a crossroads,” the casually dressed governor says in the commercial, which is running statewide, including in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene market. “This election year we're being asked whether we will keep meaningful education reforms on the books or go back to the old way of doing things.”

The “old way of doing things” refers to Idaho's laws prior to 2011, when lawmakers enacted the reforms that restricted teachers' collective bargaining rights, imposed a new merit-pay bonus system, and required big technology boosts including laptop computers for high school students and a new focus on online learning. “It paints the opposition as being reactionaries, going back to the old ways, which is kind of funny,” said Jim Weatherby, emeritus professor of public policy at Boise State University. “It's a pretty positive message.”

The ad is sponsored by “Yes for Idaho Education,” the official campaign group backing the three measures. Opponents of the laws collected thousands of signatures to force a voter referendum on the laws; a yes vote would keep them, while a no vote would repeal them. Ken Burgess, spokesman for the Yes campaign, said the idea behind the ad was partly to defuse ire aimed against state Superintendent Tom Luna, the author of the laws. “All this issue about these things being called the 'Luna laws' - we just want to remind everybody from a leadership, statesman standpoint that the governor was as much responsible for this stuff certainly as Tom Luna,” Burgess said.  You can read my full story here at, examining the claims in the ad.

Ad Watch: Latest ad charges school reform laws hamper teachers

The latest campaign commercial opposing Idaho's school reform ballot measures draws on a variety of criticisms of the measures to suggest they hamper teachers in doing their jobs. “We want to give your children the best education - but the Luna laws make that harder,” says the ad, which is airing statewide, including in the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene market. The ad cites an array of criticisms of the measures, some directly related to the propositions and others more general, from school funding issues to parent fees.

“You have significant number of undecided, and I expect to some extent, bewildered voters who are trying to sort all of this out,” said Jim Weatherby, emeritus professor at Boise State University. “I think some bewildered voters vote no or don't vote at all. I'm not suggesting that is their intent, but I think it could be an unintended consequence.” You can read my full story here at

Ad Watch: Labrador, NRCC launch new campaign ads in 1st CD race

GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador has launched a new ad today, a spot entitled “Family” that doesn’t mention his opponent and shows lots of pictures of his wife and kids. You can watch it here; Labrador’s campaign says it will begin airing this weekend. In the ad, Labrador says, “Becca and I want for our family what you want for yours.  A future without big government watching and taxing our every move.”

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee has launched a new ad against incumbent Congressman Walt Minnick in Idaho, showing what appears to be the view from behind the wheel of an out-of-control speeding car. The ad paints Minnick as a clone of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing such Democratic proposals as “national energy tax, government takeover of health care,” even though Minnick voted against both the cap-and-trade energy bill and the health care reform bill. “Put the brakes on Pelosi. Replace Walt Minnick,” the NRCC ad says; you can watch it here.

Ad Watch: Minnick hits Labrador for opposing vets plate bill

Congressman Walt Minnick has launched a new TV ad that repeats his earlier criticisms of GOP rival Raul Labrador, plus adds a new one: That Labrador “dishonored Idaho’s veterans by voting against a program honoring those who died serving our nation.” Labrador’s campaign called the new claim “a misleading smear.”

It refers to Labrador’s vote in 2009 against legislation creating a new “Gold Star Family” license plate for the families of military members killed in combat. The bill, which made the special plates free for spouses or parents but included fees for other relatives, passed and was signed into law; Labrador was among five House members and four senators to vote against the bill. Gov. Butch Otter, when he signed the bill into law - it was among four new specialty plates approved that year - said, “I’m not going to pick on any one of ‘em, but if there was ever an appropriate specialty license plate, this is it.”

According to House Transportation Committee hearing minutes, two committee members “expressed that while they were committed to not supporting any more specialty plates, they wanted to express their respect and support for veterans.” Phil Hardy, spokesman for the Labrador campaign, said Labrador was one of the two; he’d committed to oppose all new specialty license plates.  John Foster, Minnick’s campaign spokesman, said, “It was a surprising vote and one that, in our travels around the district, appalled a lot of Idaho veterans we’ve spoken to. It was a vote frankly against honoring people who served, so we thought it was an important message to relay to voters.” You can read my full story here at

SuperPAC alters anti-Minnick ad

SuperPAC for America has revised its “Idaho Voter Guide” ad, removing a false claim that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick voted for the federal stimulus bill; Minnick was one of 11 House Democrats who voted against the bill. In the new version, that part of the ad is replaced with, “Minnick backed Nancy Pelosi (for speaker), Labrador will not.” At least one Idaho station, KIVI-TV, is now running the new version of the ad.

Ad Watch: New Labrador ad claims bill raised taxes

GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador has launched a new TV ad, with the help of funding from the Idaho Republican Party, painting Congressman Walt Minnick as a tax-raiser. The one vote cited in the ad: Minnick voted in favor of HR 4154, which the ad says means he “voted to raise taxes on farmers and ranchers.”

But that bill, the Permanent Estate Tax Relief for Families, Farmers and Small Businesses Act of 2009, actually would have lowered the federal estate tax from 55 percent to 45 percent on Jan. 1, and raised the exemption from the first $1 million of an estate to $3.5 million. Because the bill was blocked in the Senate after passing the House, current law now calls for the higher rate and lower exemption to hit Jan. 1.

The federal estate tax currently is at zero for one year, but it reverts to the old, higher rates and lower exemptions unless Congress takes action. Phil Hardy, spokesman for Labrador’s campaign, said that means the bill would have raised taxes from the current zero level. “Republicans want to abolish the estate tax - Raul Labrador wants to abolish the estate tax,” Hardy said. “There’s no way he would have voted for any of these things.”

Prior to the full House’s passage of HR 4154, Minnick was one of just 18 House Democrats who voted in favor of an amendment to the bill to instead eliminate the estate tax. It failed, 187-233. “When that amendment did not pass, he voted for the compromise to make sure that the tax wouldn’t go up,” said Minnick’s campaign spokesman, John Foster. Hardy said, “That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.” He added, “We’re happy with it - we love the ad.” You can read my full story here at

KTVB pulls SuperPAC ad

At least one Idaho TV station, KTVB-TV in Boise, has decided to pull the SuperPAC for America ad against Walt Minnick that contains a false claim. “It is a non-candidate sponsored commercial, and we just reviewed the facts,” said Doug Armstrong, KTVB general manager. “It appears the commercial is factually incorrect regarding vote #46 on Jan 28th. We’ve decided to pull the commercial effective immediately.”

Minnick campaign: False SuperPAC ad ‘outrageous’

Congressman Walt Minnick’s re-election campaign is calling a new anti-Minnick ad from a national group headed by GOP strategist Dick Morris “outrageous” for falsely claiming Minnick voted in favor of the stimulus bill. “What’s outrageous is the actual vote they cite says he voted no,” said campaign manager John Foster. “I have already been in touch with our attorneys and with a couple of station managers. We believe the law here is very clear.” Stations have the option of rejecting false ads that come from outside groups, he said.

The ad is from SuperPAC for America, a national group that’s launching ads against 50 Democratic candidates in what it describes as “second-tier” races that Democrats expect to win.

Ad Watch: Allred faults Otter for state of Idaho’s economy

A new campaign commercial from Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, blames GOP Gov. Butch Otter for the state of Idaho’s economy, saying Otter “focused on helping special-interest cronies instead of creating jobs.” Allred cites a big decline in the rate of personal income growth in Idaho since Otter took office, compared to surrounding states, along with a drop-off in the growth rate from 2006 to 2008 for the state’s gross domestic product, the very measure Otter has targeted to grow with his “Project 60” economic initiative.

Otter’s campaign counters that a USA Today article just named Idaho one of the states “leading the nation’s crawl out” of the recession, which noted that Idaho rose from 50th in the nation for personal-income growth during the recession years, to 10th since the recession officially ended in June of 2009. The article called that “the USA’s biggest rebound.” “National accolades don’t just happen without true leadership,” declared Ryan Panitz, spokesman for Otter’s campaign. “Gov. Otter made the necessary changes to government and got people working together to better our economy.”

Actually, said Boise State University economics professor Don Holley, “The economy’s not doing very poorly, and it’s not doing very well - it’s just like every other state, it’s kind of reached the bottom and not moved off of it.” The best and most up-to-date statistics on the state of the economy, he said, are employment and unemployment. Idaho had very low unemployment rates before the recession, but “we got worse faster than almost anybody else,” he said, led by the collapse of a highly speculative housing market. You can read my full story here at

Latest Minnick ad faults Labrador on domestic violence votes

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick has launched two new campaign commercials, one touting his work on veterans’ issues and the other criticizing GOP challenger Raul Labrador for his votes in the Idaho Legislature on domestic violence issues. Labrador has no beef with the veterans’ ad, which highlights Minnick’s Army service and his work on legislation to expand benefits for veterans and their families. But he takes sharp issue with the domestic violence ad, which features the mother of Angie Leon, a young Nampa woman who was killed by her abusive husband in 2003.

Labrador said his votes on bills in 2007 and 2008 couldn’t have saved Leon’s life in 2003. “I think it’s a shameful ad, because it seems to imply that if we would have passed the legislation that he’s talking about, that this poor family would have been prevented the tragedy that fell upon them. … In a political season, I could never conceive of using a family’s tragedy for my political purposes.” Minnick’s campaign defended the ad, saying Labrador has a “very troubling record on domestic violence issues.” You can read my full story here at, and see the veterans ad here and the domestic violence ad here.

Ad Watch: A look at the claims in new Labrador campaign ad

Here’s a look at the claims in GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador’s new campaign commercial, his first of the campaign, which just began running in the Boise broadcast TV market today, and also is coming out on cable elsewhere. It seeks to cast freshman Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick as a close ally of President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, though the “blue-dog” Democrat has bucked his party leadership on many of its key initiatives; you can read my full story here at

CLAIM: “Democrat Walt Minnick isn’t telling the truth. He says he’s against amnesty but wouldn’t send illegals back. Can’t have it both ways, Walt.”

CONTEXT: Minnick has been sharply critical of Labrador’s work as an immigration attorney in two recent campaign commercials. However, Minnick doesn’t list an immigration position on his campaign website. A national group that backs reducing immigration, NumbersUSA, recently rated both Minnick and Labrador as “true reformers” on the issue; both said in the group’s survey that they oppose offering the estimated 11 million people living illegally in America long-term work permits and/or a path to citizenship.

Labrador’s campaign cites comments Minnick made at a Boise Young Professionals event in April of 2009, at which he said he’d want illegal residents who came forward to face a judge, be penalized, and go to “the back of the line for legal immigration. I wouldn’t send them home.” He called his approach “not politically expedient” but “practical.” Phil Hardy, Labrador’s campaign spokesman, said, “If they don’t have to leave, that’s amnesty in our opinion.” Minnick’s campaign disputed that, saying Minnick always has supported punishment for the crime of illegal immigration.

CLAIM: “Minnick voted with Obama/Pelosi over 70 percent.”

CONTEXT: The source cited in the ad, (the ad says .com, but that leads to the .org address), a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation, tracks all roll-call votes in Congress. It found that Minnick voted with his party - the Democrats - 74 percent of the time. But many of those were unanimous votes. The same site showed that Minnick voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just 57 percent of the time, but voted with GOP Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho 77 percent of the time (it also showed Simpson voted with his party, the Republicans, 91 percent of the time), and Minnick voted with House GOP Leader John Boehner 78 percent of the time (Boehner voted with his party, the Republicans, 97 percent of the time).

CLAIM: “Voted for $68 billion in more stimulus, and Minnick won’t commit to repealing Obamacare. Bottom line, Minnick’s hiding his liberal Obama/Pelosi record.”

CONTEXT: Minnick voted against both the economic stimulus bill, HR 1, and the health-care reform bill, HR 3590. He was one of just 11 House Democrats to oppose the House version of the stimulus bill in February of 2009, and one of just seven to oppose the final version. He was one of 34 House Democrats to vote against the health-care reform bill.

The ad cites two other bills to back its stimulus claim, HR 1586, a state-aid bill for schools and Medicaid that was signed into law Aug. 10, and HR 5297, a measure establishing a small-business lending fund. Minnick voted for HR 1586, and he successfully pushed an amendment to HR 5297 to make non-owner occupied commercial real estate loans eligible for the program. Minnick also is a cosponsor of a Republican bill to repeal a section of the health care bill, regarding a record-keeping requirement for small businesses, and has backed repealing other sections as well.

Hardy said, “The use of the word ‘stimulus’ now is a catch-all, even by the media, for continued efforts to prop up the economy by the president and the Pelosi agenda.” He called both the school/Medicaid funding bill and the small-business lending fund bill “all stimulus,” and said, “It’s all a culture of spending that Raul Labrador does not support at all.”

CLAIM: “I’m Raul Labrador, and I approved this message because I’m a conservative Republican who’ll stand up to Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi.”

CONTEXT: Labrador is a conservative Republican who bucked his own party’s governor in the state Legislature on a proposed gas tax increase. Minnick is a conservative “blue-dog” Democrat who has bucked his party’s leadership on many of its signature initiatives and favors banning earmarks.

Ad Watch: Allred’s latest commercial

Keith Allred, the Democratic candidate for governor, has a new TV commercial out that’s running statewide. Like his last one, it criticizes Gov. Butch Otter for this year’s 7.5 percent cut in funding for public schools. You can read my full story here at, and here’s a look at the claims:

CLAIM: “We have a great country and a great state because we’ve invested in education. Cost-effective investments in education are an investment in a strong economy with the new and better jobs that go with it.”

CONTEXT: Few would dispute this claim; Otter has made similar statements.

CLAIM: “This is a governor who doesn’t get it when it comes to the priority that education is. He cut education for the first time in Idaho history, a whopping seven and a half percent, while also trying to raise taxes. It didn’t have to happen.”

CONTEXT: It’s true that Otter and the Legislature cut public school funding by 7.5 percent this year, though Otter notes that other programs took deeper cuts; but the tax increase that Otter championed, a gas tax hike to fund road maintenance, was pushed unsuccessfully in the two previous years, the 2009 and 2008 legislative sessions. Otter made no gas tax proposal this year, instead opting to appoint a transportation funding task force that will make recommendations in December, after the election; that task force is meeting again tomorrow.

Jim Weatherby, political scientist emeritus at Boise State University, said, “The timing here is off. It’s clear he’s talking about 2010 here, but then using a 2009 reference. It’s not completely accurate.”

The claim about cutting education for the first time is something even Otter acknowledges. Idaho actually cut general funds for public schools the previous year by $68 million, a first, but that year, the difference was mostly made up with federal stimulus funds, leaving schools with an overall funding increase of a fraction of a percent. This year’s cut is a drop in total funding for schools.

Allred’s claim that “it didn’t have to happen” refers to his position that the state shouldn’t have low-balled tax revenue projections for this year, forcing deeper cuts, and should have funded more tax collectors to collect due but uncollected taxes, a move the Tax Commission says would bring in millions. If estimates held, those two moves would have added up to millions more than this year’s $128.5 million cut in school funding.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Eye On Boise.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here