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September 15, 2006

Reichert attack ad misses the mark

Posted by David Postman at 5:19 PM

There's a new TV ad out attacking Congressman Dave Reichert, R-Auburn. It is an independent ad from a 527 group called Majority Action. It is not officially part of Democrat Darcy Burner's campaign.

It seems to fall short of its target, though. It accuses Reichert of failing to pass recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. But the provisions in the bills he's accused of keeping bottled up were in another piece of legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House in May 2005. Reichert is chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Science and Technology.

The ad also criticizes Reichert for standing with President Bush on the Iraq war. One of the votes cited by Majority Action to back up the claim is a 2005 vote on a defense appropriations bill that had wide Democratic support. A yes vote could hardly be seen as a measure of blind support of the president. The bill passed 388 to 43. In the Washington delegation, Democrats Rick Larsen, Adam Smith, Jay Inslee and Norm Dicks, voted along with Reichert and Republicans Cathy McMorris and Doc Hastings. Democrat Jim McDermott voted against the measure and Democrat Brian Baird did not vote.

Majority Action is led by a heavyweight group of former members of Congress and Democratic party leaders. The group says it will focus on 10-15 key races against Republican incumbents. Unfortunately the group's Web site includes no contact information so I could not ask any questions about the ad or find out how widely it will be shown. Horsesass.org says a week of ads has been bought on cable.

The ad opens with video of President Bush talking about Iraq, with shots of Reichert at a podium and a backdrop of soldiers at war.

President Bush: "We must stay the course."

Narrator: "But while Iraq slips further into civil war, Congressman Dave Reichert just stands with president Bush, voting to support Bush's open-ended commitment in Iraq.

And at home? Reichert chairs a subcommittee on Homeland Security that's failed to pass five critical bills dealing with recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Tell Reichert it's time to stand up to Bush on Iraq — and get to work on national security.

Majority Action is responsible for the content of this ad."

Here's the script and the group's back up documentation.

Reichert opponents may not count former Sen. Slade Gorton as a credible source for fact-checking the ad, given his support for the GOP incumbent. But Gorton has been outspoken in his criticism of Congress and the administration for failing to act on key recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. His work on the commission was praised by people of both parties. And in this case, the record appears to back him up.

In its final report the commission gave Congress an "F" for failing to allocate homeland security funds based on risk. Gorton said the money had been doled out based on political concerns instead, and the commission wanted to create a new formula.

But that was done with the passage of H.R. 1544 in May 2005, Gorton said. Reichert was a co-sponsor of the bill. Reichert wrote Gorton a letter Sept. 5 asking him to clarify that the bill satisfied the commission's recommendation. Gorton told me earlier today he hasn't written back yet, but said, "My answer to that question is 'yes.' The House, and Reichert included, deserve a very good grade on that recommendation. It has been the Senate that is a stumbling block."

As an example of the problem in the Senate, Gorton points to Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, who he calls one of the best senators in office today. Gorton said Collins was great after the 2004 elections in pushing through many recommendations from the 9/11 commission, but not the change in the funding formula.

"She's from Maine," Gorton said, "and with respect to this formula, she's protecting Maine, which would get damn little" under the system approved by the House.

The ad is misleading at best in its criticism of Reichert's role with homeland security funding.

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