Target 8 fact checks Roy Blunt's attack ads

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COLUMBIA - KOMU 8's Target 8 investigative team analyzed claims made by Republican Senator Roy Blunt in two of his campaign ads. The ads, called "Right Direction" and "Promotion," attack his Democratic challenger Jason Kander. Blunt and Kander are opposing candidates competing for Blunt's current seat as U.S. Senator for Missouri.

Based on facts, each line of the ads was determined to be true, false or incomplete.

'Do you believe we're headed in the right direction? Hillary Clinton and Jason Kander do. They've pledged to continue the same failed policies holding America back': TRUE AND FALSE.

Kander has publicly advocated for Hillary Clinton on more than one occasion, and Clinton has said she hopes to work with Kander in the United States Senate.

As they are both Democrats, Kander and Clinton have similar plans, in areas such as supporting small businesses. Kander's wife, Diana, is a self-made entrepreneur, and Clinton's father was a small business owner. Both Kander and Clinton have shown support for easier startup and growth of small businesses.

Kander and Clinton also have similar understandings of climate change and have expressed plans to try and reduce America's carbon footprint and invest in clean energy technologies.

On the other hand, Kander has not always sided strictly with his party. 

In September this year, Kander told the Springfield News Leader, unlike Clinton, he does not support a public option for health care.

According to the Associated Press, Kander also sided with Roy Blunt by openly supporting a balanced budget amendment, which is typically championed by members of the Republican party.

"Kander/Clinton plan? Expand Obamacare." INCOMPLETE.

According to Kander's campaign, "Jason supports fixing the Affordable Care Act, not expanding it." His campaign goes on to offer specific fixes, including repealing the "Cadillac tax" and giving tax breaks to small businesses that offer health care to their employees.

Although Kander said he would like to improve upon rather than do away with the ACA, he specifically says he does not support expanding it, this statement is incomplete.

Though his campaign offers proposed improvements to the ACA, as a state representative, he voted repeatedly in favor of the ACA.

According to the Missouri House journals, Kander voted:

  • in January 2010 against HCR 18, which encouraged legislators to vote against the ACA.
  • in March 2010 against HJR 48, which proposed an amendment that would keep people from being forced into any health care system.
  • in May 2010 against HCR 77, which encouraged the Attorney General to challenge federal health care reform.
  • in April 2012 against HB 1534, which opposed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Missouri.

'Jason Kander voted three times to support an energy tax that could've cost Missouri 58,000 jobs': TRUE

The Missouri House Journal from 2010 shows Kander, in his time as a representative, voted three times against HCR 46, which opposed the 'cap and trade' bill H.R. 2454. The Wall Street Journal article cited by the ad said those voting in favor of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, were voting for what was "likely to be the biggest tax in American history."  

The ad attributed the bill's impact on 58,000 jobs to an analysis done on H.R. 2454 by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). This analysis said the proposed bill would cause job losses because of "lower industrial output due to higher energy prices, the high cost of complying with required emissions cuts, and greater competition from overseas manufacturers with lower energy costs."

The analysis projected if the bill passed, by the year 2030 Missouri jobs would decline by 43,300 in a low cost scenario and 58,900 in a high cost scenario. NAM noted the cost scenarios reflect the bill's impact on GDP.

Promotion ad targets Kander's work as SOS

The next ad, Promotion, targeted Kander's job as Missouri's Secretary of State. It alluded that a ballot shortage in the April 5 election in St. Louis County was Kander's fault. The ad starts with narration that states, "Bungled election process leaves voters without ballots" and then goes to clips from various news broadcasts that state, "Investigators are being called through a major ballot blunder", and "St. Louis County voters being turned away."

Because of the way the ad was worded though, including those inserted quotes from other news outlets, there was no direct claim stating Kander was to blame.

Missouri's official manual, or the "blue book," has a chapter on elections which states, "voter registration and the conduct of elections are the responsibilities of boards of election commissioners in the counties of Clay, Jackson, Platte and St. Louis." Printing ballots is the responsibility of local election officials. Technically, this means the Secretary of State cannot be held responsible for the ballot shortage.

The secretary of state's Elections Integrity Unit also published preliminary and final election reviews looking into the ballot shortage. 

The background information on these reviews states, "St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners (Board) failed to provide a sufficient number of ballots at their polling places."

It continues on to say, "St. Louis County election officials have taken full responsibility for the situation and cooperated in this review." 

'Even the St. Louis Post-Dispatch criticized Kander for his failure to deal with absentee voter fraud': INCOMPLETE

Kander's name was taken out of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article cited and replaced with "election officials across all levels." The ad does not verbally mention that this was an opinion article, though in small writing, the ad notes it was an editorial piece.