Monroe County, N.Y. --- An attack ad called "Corruption" hit the airwaves this week and it takes aim at Maggie Brooks' record as Monroe County Executive.
Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D – Fairport) campaign is now being called out by the Brooks (R – Webster) camp for false claims in the ad.
This prompted a 13WHAM News “Fact or Fiction” review of the ad.
The ad itself draws the following conclusion as stated by the ad’s narrator:
“Too many scandals. Too high a price. At least $423 million in cost of scandal to taxpayers in Monroe County. We just can't afford Maggie Brooks."
Throughout the spot you'll find a scroll of so-called "scandals" each with a dollar amount assigned to it. The word “scandal” is left up to interpretation based on the wide range of items listed on the screen during this ad.
The ad gets a FACT rating when bringing up the Robutrad scandal involving county workers with political ties that cost taxpayers about $1 million.
The ad earns another FACT rating when bringing up former Rochester International Airport Director Dave Damelio's misuse of about $21,000 in public funds.
Yet other items listed are less clear when attempting to reach the $423 million claimed at the ad’s conclusion.
A $99 million amount is assigned to the heavily scrutinized UTC contract that is being investigated by the N.Y.S. Attorney General and was the focus of a scathing audit by the State Comptroller’s office. But FICTION must be declared when using that $99 million total because the exact “cost” or “savings” (as Brooks maintains) of the UTC contract is still being disputed--but it ranges between $5 and $8 million each way. Furthermore, the technology and communications services provided in the UTC contract had to be provided in some way and surely would not have been obtained for free.
Additionally, a $224 million cost for the Monroe Security and Safety Systems County contract is also FICTION for many of the same reasons; the service had to be provided one way or another.
We’re also declaring a case of FACTION as it pertains to a cameo appearance from 13WHAM News Anchor Don Alhart who appears at the beginning of the ad.
“Tough questions tonight about Monroe County's finances under the watch of County Executive Maggie Brooks," the ad shows Alhart saying.
It is a FACT that is what Alhart said on September 23, 2011 during the 6:00 p.m. newscast. But it comes with a dose of FICTION when one considers the balance provided if you watched the newscast that night and heard the very next thing Alhart stated in that report, to wit: "...and these questions come six weeks before an election, leading Brooks to ask if this is politically motivated.”
A Fair Election Practices Committee hearing on this ad is being scheduled following a complaint filed by the Brooks campaign.
The Slaughter campaign provided the following statement defending the contents of this ad.
"Maggie Brooks rewarded political contributors with massive taxpayer-funded contracts through a rigged bidding scheme. When a group of insiders get preferential treatment in the awarding of a contract, the entire contract is corrupt. Good government is about taxpayer dollars being respected, and even one dollar wasted is one too many. "