Real Jobs NC runs misleading ad against Whilden in House 116 race
Real Jobs NC, a 527 group that has run ads across the state targeting Democrats, is now running a misleading ad against state Democratic Rep. Jane Whilden. The North Carolina Independent News confirmed that the ad, titled, “Misplaced Priorities,” has been on the air since October 22 and will run through November 2 on WLOS, an ABC affiliate in Asheville.
In the spot, Whilden is portrayed as having “Voted to allow your property taxes to fund local politicians’ campaigns.” The ad refers to House Bill 120 titled, “Public Municipal Campaigns,” which passed the state House by a vote of 60-56 on April 21, 2009. Whilden did vote for the bill. The legislation would give towns and cities statewide the option of appropriating funds to pay for municipal campaigns. Nowhere in the legislation requires municipalities to use property taxes as a means of funding if they choose to implement a form of public financing the bill allows.
Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause of North Carolina, speaking to NCIN, said, “House Bill 120 that passed the House mandated absolutely nothing. No tax hike, no mandate, so the inference in that ad is completely false and completely misleading.”
Whilden, in a written statement to NCIN, said, “I did not go to Raleigh so that the state government could tell everyone how to do everything. This was a bill about giving locals more control and of course I support that. Plus, it did not cost the state a dime.” When asked by NCIN if her campaign would ask WLOS to pull the ad, she said she was “still considering it.”
Phillips further clarified his objections to the ad in a letter he shared with the NCIN, sent today to the Asheville Citizen-Times. A portion of the letter reads:
“And like the old saying goes, NC Real Jobs doesn’t seem to let facts get in the way of making its misleading claims.
Their latest attack is on Rep. Jane Whilden, whom they assert voted for a bill that would allow property taxes to pay for local elections. No such bill ever passed or was ever considered by the North Carolina General Assembly. House Bill 120 would have simply allowed cities such as Asheville to consider campaign finance reform options for local elections—no mandate, no tax increase, no specific plan spelled out. Just a bill to provide cities permission to look at ways of decreasing the high costs of local campaigns.”
In March of this year, the Wilmington City Council passed a resolution supporting HB 120. It read in part:
This resolution is being brought to you for consideration at the request of councilmember Padgett and asks the North Carolina General Assembly and Governor to enact legislation that gives larger towns the authority to sponsor a public financing program for their local elections, if they so choose, using local resources, with technical assistance from the State Board of Elections. The cost of running for local office is becoming unattainable to everyday citizens in many North Carolina communities and public financing programs that encourage small donations, voter participation, and voluntary spending limits are present at the federal and state level, including in North Carolina statewide judicial and executive branch elections. However, a North Carolina city or town could not implement such a program unless State law is changed to give local governments the authority to pursue this option.
The city councils of Greenville, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, Asheville and Cary have also passed similar endorsements of the bill. The city of Chapel Hill has implemented, with state permission, to publicly finance its municipal races. But it would be up to each city or town to implement their own system of public financing if they choose to do so.
Real Jobs NC is run by conservative businessmen and activists Art Pope and Fred Eshelman.
(Images: YouTube/realjobsnc; Matt Mahurin)