Back on July 1, our editorial board asked congressional candidates Tedra Cobb and Rep. Elise Stefanik not to lie during their congressional campaigns.
It was a broadside speaking to how low political discourse had fallen and how little principles mattered anymore.
We asked them not to lie.
Not when they talked to the media.
Not when they talk to the voters.
Not when they air a TV ad.
Not when they post on Facebook.
Four days later, Cobb submitted a letter to the editor and accepted the pledge. We never really heard from Rep. Stefanik, at least not directly to our editorial board. The first word we got that she accepted the pledge was through a “tweet” — can’t anyone just pick up the phone anymore? — and even that tweet was open to interpretation.
But in an editorial board meeting with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise this week, our interest was piqued when Rep. Stefanik declared her ads were not negative. She said they were “contrast ads.”
We don’t know what that means, but we know a negative ad when we see one, and her attacks on Cobb are negative.
But reasonable people can disagree.
Earlier this year, we fact-checked the now infamous “Taxin’ Tedra” ad that supports Rep. Stefanik. We found that Cobb had not voted to raise taxes 20 times as the ad states, but just a few times, and that is not unusual when it comes to county budgets.
We booed Rep. Stefanik in our Boos and Bravos column a couple weeks ago for exaggerating in the ad.
But the ad is still running.
When the Adirondack Daily Enterprise asked Rep. Stefanik about the ad, and specifically about our fact-check, she said the ad was “accurate.”
Rep. Stefanik also says that repeatedly at the end of the each of those televised ads, as required by campaign advertising laws.
We disagree that the ad is “accurate.”
A better portrayal is that it is misleading.
We believe our fact-check is accurate because we based it on facts.
In another Stefanik ad, Cobb is called a “Cuomo clone” and is called a “Cuomo appointee” for her service on the Committee on Open Government.
That is inaccurate, too.
Cobb was appointed to the Committee on Open Government by Gov. Eliot Spitzer, and just to clear the air, the Committee on Open Government is an independent watchdog arm of state government that ensures that municipalities and state government abide by Freedom of Information and Open Meeting statutes. We think that speaks well of Cobb.
Sadly, we believe that Rep. Stefanik has broken her pledge to conduct a campaign based on the issues. We don’t understand why she has not spent her vast campaign war chest on promoting her own record instead of attacking her opponent with dubious claims.
Her campaign style was something we hoped not to witness.
That’s why we asked the candidates not to lie.
We do believe that redemption is possible.
We ask Rep. Stefanik to review all her current advertisements, fact-check them personally, and if any don’t meet a reasonable standard for truth, stop running them.
It’s the right thing to do.
It is her reputation that is on the line.
Unfortunately, no one in national politics does the right thing anymore, and even fewer seem to care about their reputations.