MILESTONE: Sara Gideon & allies reach 10 fact-checks saying they’re not telling the truth

Sara Gideon laughs at a campaign event. Independent Maine and national fact-checkers have already issued ten different reports citing misleading or false attack ads from Gideon and her national allies.

FREEPORT, ME – When it comes to her campaign ads attacking Senator Susan Collins, independent fact-checkers are not Sara Gideon’s friends. It’s not uncommon for a fact-checker to occasionally call an ad a “stretch” or add context to a claim made in an ad, but Sara Gideon and her allies appear to be in uncharted territory for the breadth and depth of falsehoods in their campaign against Senator Susan Collins.

Following is a rundown of fact-checks that have called our Sara Gideon and her allies for false, misleading or otherwise dishonest statements:

Attack on 2017 Tax Cuts

Chuck Schumer’s Super PAC is attacking Senator Collins on 2017 tax cuts, the lines used by the Schumer Super PAC are in line with claims made by Gideon on the campaign trail.

Link: https://www.centralmaine.com/2020/08/17/super-pac-packs-distortions-into-ad-attacking-susan-collins/
Fact-Checker: Portland Press Herald
Determination: “The ad, like others appearing during this election cycle, depends heavily on distorting a handful of facts while drawing on far-reaching suppositions and glaring omissions to make a case that is ultimately not factual.”

Attack on 2017 Tax Cuts
A second fact-check, this from the Bangor Daily News, on the 2017 tax cut bill. Gideon makes similar claims during campaign speeches and events.

Link: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/16/politics/ad-watch-susan-collins-actually-voted-to-cut-most-mainers-taxes-for-now/
Fact-Checker: Bangor Daily News
Determination: “It is missing key context that the bill she voted for caused taxes for low- and middle-income families to go down, at least for now.”

Sara Gideon scores Washington Post “Mostly False” Three Pinocchio fact-check on Paycheck Protection Program attack ad

Sara Gideon’s campaign scores a 3 Pinocchio fact-check for a series of false and misleading claims about the PPP program authored by Senator Collins. Making matters worse for Gideon, it was later discovered that her husband’s law firm, where he is a partner, actually received between $1 and $2 million through PPP while Gideon was attacking Collins for the program.

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/15/democratic-ad-misleadingly-attacks-susan-collins-paycheck-protection-program/
Fact-Checker: Washington Post
Determination: “Overall, this ad is highly misleading and worthy of Three Pinocchios.”

WaPo fact-checks are rated on a scale of 1-4 Pinocchios, with this Three Pinocchio rating being one of the worst.

FactCheck.org says Sara Gideon cherry-picks and misleads in ad attacking Susan Collins on prescription drug policies

Gideon campaign attack ad claims Collins has voted to keep cheaper generic drugs off the market while conveniently ignoring Collins’ votes and record pushing for more generic drugs and lowering prescription drug costs.

Link: https://www.factcheck.org/2020/07/cherry-picking-collins-prescription-drug-votes/
Fact-Checker: FactCheck.org
Determination: “A Democratic TV ad attacks Sen. Susan Collins for voting twice “to allow drug companies to keep cheaper generic drugs off the market,” but omits the fact that Collins has supported bills intended to increase generic-drug competition and lower prescription costs…”

Thus, the two votes highlighted in Gideon’s attack ad are far from a full representation of Collins’ record on the issue.”

News Center Maine finds Gideon attack ad on prescription drugs is murky and doesn’t provide context on Collins’ record

Similar to the FactCheck.org review of the ad, News Center hits the Gideon campaign for murky language that is not true on claims about Collins’ campaign contributions and says Gideon ignores Collins’ record on prescription drugs in her claims in the ad.

Link: https://www.newscentermaine.com/article/news/politics/ad-fact-check-sen-collins-depicted-as-engaging-in-quid-pro-quo-with-big-pharma-in-latest-gideon-ad/97-03d391c4-0b8a-4cfc-b662-28e6f2745358
Fact-Checker: News Center Maine
Determination: Gideon ad claims Collins took $1.6 million from pharmaceutical industry, but News Center notes that is “technically illegal” as corporate contributions to federal candidates are illegal.

“That’s because it is illegal for corporations to donate directly to federal campaigns, which is what the ad technically claims.”

“As for the other key claim, the two votes highlighted in the Gideon attack ad are far from a full representation of Collins’ record on the issue of lowering prescription drug prices,” says News Center Maine.

Dark Money ad from group run by former Gideon & Pingree staffers gets “mostly false” rating from Washington Post

File this under, “at least they’re consistent” when it comes to the Pinocchio ratings with the Washington Post. Maine Momentum, a group run by former staffers for Sara Gideon and Chellie Pingree land a “mostly false” rating from WaPo.

Dark money ad claims Senator Susan Collins put “old age programs in jeopardy.”

Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/08/19/dark-money-ad-claims-susan-collins-put-old-age-programs-jeopardy/
Fact-Checker: Washington Post
Determination: “Attack ad mixes innuendo and fuzzy sourcing to misleadingly attack the veteran lawmaker from Maine.”

Group funded by Dem billionaires falsely attacks Collins as a “stooge”

The Lincoln Project went too far in an ad attacking Senator Susan Collins, according to a fact-check from Maine television station WMTW.

The ad paints Collins as a hyper-partisan “stooge” when in fact Collins has the most bipartisan voting record in the U.S. Senate. Collins recently was rated the most bipartisan Senator by the Lugar Center and the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

Link: https://www.wmtw.com/article/republican-led-group-produces-attack-ad-against-sen-susan-collins-for-supporting-trump/33462646
Fact-Checker: WMTW
Determination: WMTW says the claim in the ad is False and provides a laundry list of examples.

Schumer Super PAC attacks Collins on USPS bill Schumer himself sponsored

This may be the most bizarre of all the fact-checks. Chuck Schumer’s Super PAC is attacking Senator Susan Collins for supporting a 2006 bill that Schumer sponsored and that received zero opposition in the Senate.

In the ad, the Super PAC asks “Senator Collins, how could you let this happen?” when referring to financial problems stemming from the recession that followed passage of the bill.

Sara Gideon is using similar talking points from the ad to attack Senator Collins on the campaign trail.

Link: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/politics/ad-watch-a-susan-collins-bill-doesnt-fully-explain-postal-services-problems/
Fact-Checker: Bangor Daily News
Determination: Bangor Daily News points out that the bill the Super PAC is attacking Collins for had support from all Senate Democrats and Republicans. The BDN also points out various factors leading to the USPS problems not related to the 2006 bill.

Politifact calls Gideon ally attack ad on opioid crisis “Mostly False”

With the opioid crisis hurting so many Mainers and overdoses surging under Governor Janet Mills’ COVID-19 dictates while Sara Gideon nears her fifth month of inaction as Speaker, it’s easy to see why Sara Gideon and her allies would want to push the blame for the crisis on someone else.

The problem, as Politifact points out, is that the ad in question cherry-picks one vote in a Senate committee that several Democrats sided with Collins on. At the same time, the ad ignores other votes Collins cast in favor of holding opioid manufacturers accountable.

Link: https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/aug/14/senate-majority-pac/fact-checking-attack-sen-susan-collins-over-opioid/
Fact-Checker: PolitiFact
Determination: “An attack ad claimed Collins “voted against accountability for opioid makers” and “lied” when she said she didn’t take campaign money from a family who made its wealth selling OxyContin.

The first part of the claim is misleading. On holding manufacturers accountable, Collins voted against one measure that failed, but voted for several others that became law. 

When asked if she had ever taken campaign money from the Sackler family, Collins said no, and was wrong. One member of the family gave her one donation, of $2,300, in 2007.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. That’s our definition of Mostly False.”

Bangor Daily News says Gideon misleads on Collins record in Facebook ad

Not all the misleading or false ads coming from Sara Gideon and her allies are on television. This one is pulled from Gideon’s Facebook page.

The ad, which is among more than $2.2 million Gideon has spent on Facebook ads, shows Gideon cherry-picking Collins’ record to mislead viewers on Collins’ record on prescription drug legislation, according to the Bangor Daily News.

Link: https://bangordailynews.com/2020/08/19/politics/ad-watch-sara-gideon-cherry-picks-susan-collins-record-on-prescription-drug-legislation/
Fact-Checker: Bangor Daily News
Determination: “In her 24-year tenure in the Senate, Collins has voted on a range of bills related to health care and prescription drugs. But the ad’s suggestion – that campaign contributions the Maine Senator received led her to vote in ways that made prescription drug prices more expensive – does not hold up with her overall record.”

You’re certain to see these ads and many more as tens of millions of dollars pour into one of the nation’s most-watched U.S. Senate races, so it is important to remember that just seeing something on television doesn’t mean it’s true. As these ten fact-checkers have proven – much of what you will see will require you to dig deeper or do some research to get to the truth.

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