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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Linking Dems to Pelosi

On May 28, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced a new ad campaign attacking Democratic House members by attempting to tie them to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s winding story of what the CIA did or did not tell her about U.S. interrogation techniques. The NRCC says it plans to target 20 Democrats with mailers, robocalls, TV and radio ads; it announced that robocalls and radio spots will run in 17 districts. So far we have seen one television ad, in the district of Rep. Frank Kratovil of Maryland.

The ad shows clips of Pelosi saying that the CIA was "misleading" Congress. Her story has several twists and turns, some supported by fact and some uncertain. For more, see our full report on her statements.

But the ad is a bit misleading itself when it asks, "why won’t Pelosi investigate the ‘crime’ " of the CIA "lying to Congress," and follows by saying that Kratovil sided with her to block the investigation. Technically, the investigation that Kratovil, Pelosi and all other Democrats voted to block (a 252-172 vote that was split almost entirely along party lines) was to be explicitly of Pelosi. The Republican resolution would have created a subcommittee "to review and verify the accuracy of the Speaker’s aforementioned public statements" and would have been given the committee subpoena power to "obtain testimony and documents." Certainly, such an inquiry would have delved into whether the CIA had misled Pelosi (and Congress), as she has claimed, but this was not a straightforward vote on whether to investigate the agency, as the ad makes it seem.

The Republican Resolution

The radio ads the NRCC has launched more clearly point out that the targeted representative "voted to protect Pelosi" (not the CIA), and the robocalls say that the representative "voted to block an investigation into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s claims that the CIA lied to Congress."

The ad also says that according to the Washington Post Votes Database, Kratovil has voted with Pelosi 89 percent of the time. It’s worth noting that Pelosi has voted just 25 times this session — the number is low because speakers seldom vote. Kratovil, on the other hand, has cast 289 votes over the same time period, but he has voted with his party 89 percent of the time as well. That’s not too surprising. On average, Democratic House members have cast party-line votes 93.8 percent of the time, while Republican members’ party-line average is 90.1 percent.