Friday, March 7, 2014
In the wake of this week’s congressional hearings on whether the IRS targeted Tea Party political groups, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a flurry of attacks on Democratic members of Congress.
The language in the email was identical, with names changed for individual members of Congress.
For example, The Range got three separate copies of the release aimed at U.S. Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema.
The release stated that that “(Fill in the blank) has joined his/her Democratic colleagues in opposing legislation aimed at reining in the IRS, preventing abuse, and holding the IRS accountable for targeting the political beliefs of individuals.”
“‘(Fill in the blank) continues to ‘plead the Fifth’ on Obama’s IRS scandal and has failed to protect the political beliefs of Arizonans,’ said NRCC Communications Director Andrea Bozek. ‘The IRS is already a deeply mistrusted government agency, yet (Fill in the blank) has remained silent and refused to hold the IRS accountable.’”
Let’s leave aside the unlikely notion that Andrea Bozek actually repeated those words, over and over again, while changing the name of each of the House Democrats who were targeted by this mailer. Hey, it’s politics—phony canned quotes are as common as empty campaign promises.
But the email blast also cited three bits of legislation—and Barber voted with Republicans on two of three bills. (Incidentally, Sinema also voted in favor of two of the three bits of legislation.)
NRCC spokesman and former Arizona Daily Star reporter Daniel Scarpinato said the email blast was not inaccurate even though Barber supported two of the three bills cited as bills that "Democrats" opposed.
Scarpinato said that the votes that Barber took against HR 2009 “does, in our view, back up the point that Barber’s opposed efforts to rein in the IRS and hold them accountable.”
Scarpinato added that the release “was not attempting to suggest that Barber voted for those other two bills. They were simply to show all the votes that were taken. Some Democrats voted for those bills and some against. We tried to be careful in the language in those citations not to suggest that Barber actually voted against them.”
“Looking at in the future, we’ll try to be more clear,” Scarpinato added.
While it’s true that the releases cited a generic “Democrats voted…” lead-in to the list of criticized votes, Team Barber strategist Rodd McLeod called Scarpinato’s comments “a ridiculous bunch of spin.”
“They included three votes and Ron voted with the Republican majority of two them,” McLeod said. “And they attacked him for voting against accountability for the IRS when he voted for that accountability.”
The NRCC frequently sends out cut-and-paste attacks on Democrats in Congress in which they use the same press release but just change the names of the member of Congress.
Scarpinato said he didn’t believe the cut-and-paste approach led to any sloppiness in this case.
“We try to be really careful to make sure these things are accurate and its something that works in each district,” Scarpinato said.”
But he conceded that he had seen moments when cut-and-paste attacks have been inaccurate.
“I have seen that occur and remember making fun of people for doing it when I was a reporter,” Scarpinato said.