Senate candidates play fast and loose with facts

by Brandon Richards bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – It should come as no surprise: politics can get down right dirty and political advertisements can be more fiction than fact.

When it comes to the Louisiana U.S. Senate race, both are true.

KPLC 7 News looked at three political ads being aired statewide by candidates Sen. David Vitter, the Republican incumbent, and Congressman Charlie Melancon, the Democratic challenger.

The first television commercial 7 News looked at was an ad from Melancon, slamming Vitter for introducing a bill capping BP's liability at $150 million. It accuses Vitter of "bailing out BP" and touts the Congressman's record for passing the only bill to end the moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf.

7 News found the ad to be half true.

Yes, Vitter introduced a bill that capped BP's liability at $150 million. However, Vitter later introduced another bill, SB 3410, that did not include any cap for BP. As for Melancon's bill that claimed to end the moratorium, it passed the House, but stalled in the Senate. Furthermore, critics said the bill's language was too weak and would have done nothing to lift the moratorium.

The Obama Administration recently decided to lift the moratorium.

The second TV ad 7 News examined has been called "racist" by immigration groups. The ad by Vitter claims Melancon voted to give taxpayer funded benefits and welfare checks to illegal aliens. The ad goes on to say Melancon voted to make it illegal for law enforcement to arrest illegal immigrants.

The ad is false.

The first two claims, about taxpayer funded benefits and welfare checks, were actually standard procedural votes cast by Melancon. They had nothing to do with final passage of any bill. The assertion that Melancon voted to make it illegal to arrest illegal aliens is false. The bill Melancon voted in favor of only cleared up language regarding how police could make arrests. Again, it did not ban arrests.

The final ad 7 News looked at was another ad by Vitter, which hits Melancon for voting for the Obama stimulus and other spending programs.

This ad is true.

Melancon has gone on the record several times about his support for the Obama stimulus.

However to be fair, the Wall Street bailout of 2008 came up under President Bush, not Obama; and would not have passed Congress without Republican support.

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