An American University lecturer and author of “Why Congress Matters” is demanding that Linda McMahon’s campaign cease from using her comments in a mailer that she says egregiously takes them out of context.
Hearst Connecticut Newspapers quoted Ilona Nickels, a former resident scholar for C-SPAN, in an Aug. 22 fact check story on the claims in McMahon’s television ads that Democrat Chris Murphy missed nearly 80 percent of committee hearings during the 110th Congress.
An analysis of the Congressional Record proved to be consistent with the attendance figures reported by McMahon’s campaign.
“On the face of it, it doesn’t look good. That’s a lot of hearings to miss,” Nickels told the newspaper.
Nickels cautioned that the voters of Connecticut shouldn’t rush to judgment on Murphy’s work ethic based on one legislative session, however.
And here’s the quote that Nickels says McMahon’s campaign twisted:
“Every failure to attend can’t be chalked up to, he’s a lazy SOB. He doesn’t want to do his work. He’s a slacker,” Nickels said. “Members are overtaxed.”
A mailer sent out by the McMahon campaign shows a photograph of Murphy with the quote, “He’s a slacker,” which it attributed to the Connecticut Post, a Hearst newspaper.
Nickels only learned of the mailer, which does not mention her by name, from an e-mail she received this week from someone who received McMahon’s campaign literature.
Soon thereafter, she fired off an email to McMahon’s campaign manager Corry Bliss with the subject line “misuse of my words” that was obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Mr. Bliss: please cease and desist using my words in such a blatant out of context and dishonest manner.
I have spent 30 years building a career as a non-partisan independent analyst and scholar and you have harmed that profile.
I don’t know either candidate in your race; I have no vested interest whatsoever in the outcome. But I do have a vested interest in preserving my academic reputation.”
The McMahon campaign stood by the main message of the mailer.
“Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but facts are indisputable. It is a fact that Congressman Chris Murphy missed nearly 80 percent of his committee hearings during his first term in Congress,” said McMahon spokesman Todd Abrajano. “
“Only a Member of Congress could think that only doing 20 percent of their job is enough to get a promotion to the U.S. Senate, and voters are rightly outraged by Congressman Murphy’s disrespectful, slacker approach to his $170,000-a-year, taxpayer-funded job.”
Murphy campaign spokesman issued the following statement on McMahon’s mailer.
“This is just one more example of Republican Linda McMahon throwing millions of dollars into a campaign of lies and distortions in an attempt to buy this election. McMahon is going to keep trying to kick up mud, but she won’t be able to distract voters from her plans to dismantle Medicare, explode the deficit in order to give herself a $7 million tax cut, and restrict women’s access to healthcare and contraception.”
This is not the first time the same mailer has incited controversy.
McMahon’s political operatives lifted material from the campaign literature of Murphy’s Democratic primary opponent, Susan Bysiewicz, who clumsily claimed that Murphy was beholden to Wall Street money.
Bysiewicz said the material was used without her permission.
The gamesmanship doesn’t end there, however.
A pair of small business owners featured in a McMahon brochure trumpeting her jobs/economic recovery plan cried foul in late August when their images appeared in a television ad for Murphy.