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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

More Bailout Baloney

Four more freshman House Democrats are claiming in ads to have opposed the Wall Street bailout.

We wrote last week about five ads being run by first-term Democrats claiming they voted against the bailout, which created the unpopular Troubled Asset Relief Program. But Congress approved the bailout program before these lawmakers were even elected, much less sworn in.

It appears the misleading claim is contagious: Now Betsy Markey of Colorado and Mark Schauer of Michigan all have new ads that contain that assertion. And Walt Minnick of Idaho says he "said no" to the bailout, while Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona says she "opposed" it.

What they did was vote for a resolution to block the Treasury Department from getting the second half of the $700 billion allocated by the bailout. But the vote was purely symbolic, as we wrote. Both the Senate and the House would have had to approve the resolution to prevent the money from being released. Since the Senate had defeated the resolution a week earlier, Treasury already had the money and was in the process of giving it out.

The House vote had no impact on that process – although viewers of these ads may be led to believe otherwise.

Correction, Sept. 8: We originally reported that Minnick’s ad said he "voted" against the bailout. His campaign manager John Foster objected, pointing out that what Minnick says in the ad is: "I’ve said no" to Wall Street bailouts.

It’s true that, as a candidate in 2008, he did denounce passage of the bill. He would have been more accurate to say in his ad that he "spoke out against" the bailouts.

Correction, Sept. 9: Similarly, we wrote that Kirkpatricks ad said she "voted" against the bailout. She actually says in the ad that she "opposed" it. On her Web site, however, she says she "voted against every bailout that has come before Congress, including the bank and auto industry bailouts."

According to the Kirkpatrick campaign and the Arizona Congress Watch Web site, Kirkpatrick did speak out against the bank bailout while she was campaigning in fall 2008.

Betsy Markey ad:

Walt Minnick ad:

Ann Kirkpatrick ad:

Mark Schauer ad: