Newsweek Pokes Holes in Joe Cimperman’s Attacks Against Dennis Kucinich

Fact Checking the “Dump Dennis” ad, Justin Bank, Newsweek

Former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich is now fighting to hold onto his House seat in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s the target of a tough attack ad that says he “gives a lot of speeches” but “doesn’t get much done.” But the ad is a textbook example of deceptive political advertising – it uses dramatic-sounding numbers that, put into context, aren’t such a big deal after all:

The ad, by challenger Joe Cimperman, says that under Kucinich’s watch, “we’ve lost 38,000 jobs.” That’s the decline in employment figures for an Ohio county, part of which Kucinich serves. But we’re sure that one congressman doesn’t bear the sole responsibility for such job losses.

The ad says Kucinich “passed only one bill” in Congress, a claim based on the fact that he was the lead sponsor on only one bill that was signed into law. But such a statistic is an inadequate measure of a lawmaker’s effectiveness. A legislative tracking site found his record on legislation to be in line with those of other House members.  

It says Kucinich “brings home less money, 33% percent less.” But less than what? And what is the money for? The ad doesn’t say, but the Cimperman campaign is using a selective measurement.

While Democratic presidential candidates were trading barbs and boasts in their latest debate in Cleveland, the Ohio city was witnessing another political brawl. Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman has been running ads aimed at beating incumbent U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Ohio’s 10th congressional district. The state’s primary is March 4. Cimperman’s most recent TV ad, which first aired last week, says “Dennis Kucinich gives a lot of speeches … he just doesn’t get much done” and goes on to paint Kucinich as an ineffective congressman. But it uses misleading statistics to do so.

Who Lost What Jobs?
The ad implies that Kucinich is responsible for the loss of jobs in his district, saying, “On his watch, we’ve lost 38,000 jobs.” Cimperman spokesman Khalid Saledhi says that the 38,000 figure was tabulated from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ data for Cuyahoga County (which includes Kucinich’s district as well as pieces of three other districts). The campaign looked at employment figures for Jan. 1997, Kucinich’s first month in office, and Jan. 2007, calculating a net loss of 38,261 jobs. But pinning the county’s job loss to Kucinich is just plain silly. more

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