The conservative political action committee that stirred much controversy this summer with a television ad charging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s wealth increased while she was in office is back on the air tonight.
The New Hampshire Journal has learned that the Ending Spending Action Fund is starting a $700,000, one-week broadcast and cable buy with an ad speculating on why she has not held a “traditional town hall meeting for two years.” The group is strongly supporting Shaheen’s GOP opponent, Scott Brown, and now has aired about $2 million in advertising since late last year.
In the new ad, with a visual of the question and answer, “Where is Jeanne Shaheen? Hiding from you,” a narrator says, “Maybe (her lack of town halls) is because she doesn’t want to answer questions about her possible conflicts of interest on her Senate votes, her family’s assets surging while in public office or her record of voting with Barack Obama 99 percent of the time last year.”
The ad shows her husband, Bill Shaheen, trying to block a camera taping the senator, while the narrator asks, “What else is Jeanne Shaheen hiding from New Hampshire voters?”
The ad goes on to claim, “Washington has changed Jeanne Shaheen.”
Shaheen’s campaign said Ending Spending was doing nothing more than a re-launch of an ad that has already been “widely discredited” and said Brown “ought to be ashamed of these smears his allies are peddling, which show just how desperate they are to get Scott Brown back in Washington voting for their interests, not New Hampshire’s. Independent fact checkers have made it clear: these attacks are false and Jeanne Shaheen has never profited from her public service.”
This story continues below the ad.
Ending Spending president Brian Baker said it is the fifth ad the group has aired related to the U.S. Senate race, dating back to late last year, when an ad focused on the Shaheen Affordable Care Act-related promise, “You can keep your insurance if you like it.”
A second Ending Spending ad, in April, praised Republican Brown as “right for New Hampshire.”
A third ad, in late August, charged the Shaheens’ wealth increased while she was in office and reflected news reports that her husband received a stock option from a company that received about $70,000 from the stimulus program.
Shaheen’s lawyers, demanding that the ad be pulled from the airwaves, said the Ending Spending ad falsely claimed her wealth surged since she has been in office because while her assets grew from between $3.4 million and $7.2 million in 2008 to between $3.7 million and $7.8 million in 2013, so did her liabilities.
They said that as a result of increasing liabilities – apparently due to 10 mortgages taken out during the period – her net wealth actually decreased, from between $2.4 million and $4.6 million in 2008 to between $1.7 million and $3.6 million in 2013.
The Shaheen campaign called the ad “false, misleading and deceptive.” It aired its own ad saying that Scott Brown “ought to be ashamed” because “his out-of-state supporters are running ugly attack ads questioning the integrity of our Senator.”
Ending Spending’s lawyers, defending the accuracy of the charge in the ad, said increased liabilities should not be included in calculations of wealth. They accused the Shaheen camp of using “misleading math” and a definition of wealth not found in dictionaries or “one that certainly does not comport with the average New Hampshire voters’ definition of the term.”
Shaheen campaign Manager Mike Vlaching noted that FactCheck.org called the Ending Spending ad “scandalous” and Politico called it the “Whopper of the Week.”
But no television stations pulled the ad; one station in Boston insisted that an additional citation be added — and Baker said it was.
Ending Spending followed that controversial ad with one portraying voters being dismayed by the reports on her wealth and Senate votes.
“We’ve been out there for the better part of what will be a year by Nov. 4,” said Baker, “educating folks about Jeanne Shaheen.
“The genesis of this new ad is the stories we have seen that she has not held a traditional town hall meeting in several years, and we were surprised and wanted to talk about it.
“This ad is not about the conflict of interest or the increase in the assets or the fact that she voted 99 percent of the time with President Obama,” Baker said. “It is about her not wanting to answer questions from voters about these things. She’s hiding.”
But Vlacich of the Shaheen campaign said, “Scott Brown moved to New Hampshire and brought with him an unprecedented amount of dishonest, personal, and negative attacks on Senator Shaheen and her family…..New Hampshire voters know Jeanne Shaheen and they will see through these baseless attacks, paid for by corporate interests trying to buy New Hampshire’s Senate seat for Scott Brown.”
After the August and September ad, Ending Spending commissioned a poll, which showed the race tied at 45 to 45 percent, Baker said. That poll was completed shortly before a public poll, by CNN/ORC, had the race tied at 48 to 48 percent.
The polling memo, by National Research, Inc., told Ending Spending Shaheen can be defeated “provided the advertising against her can match or exceed the advertising that is sure to come from the Democrats and their affiliated groups.”