Saturday, October 14, 2006

Courant Exposes Johnson's Lies

The Hartford Courant ran a great article today regarding the new Chris Murphy ad and the hissy fit Nancy Johnson is having over it. The article points out the numerous lies that Nancy Johnson has made in her attempt to run from her record of ignoring constituents in need. Read it for yourself (I've bolded the good parts). Also, watch the story done by WTNH.

Johnson Attack on Ad Misfires: Murphy Commercial Is Rooted In Fact

At an emotional news conference in the state Capitol this week, U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson took what many veteran campaign strategists would consider a dangerous political step.

Johnson, a 24-year Republican incumbent, is in the middle of a bruising re-election battle against Democratic state Sen. Chris Murphy, a race that is on its way to becoming one of the most expensive - and nasty - in state history. Quite beyond their differences over issues such as Iraq and health care, the core drama in the 5th Congressional District contest has been a lively exchange of negative political ads by both sides, an intensity that reflects the district's importance in determining whether the Democrats seize control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Wednesday afternoon, Johnson attacked her opponent for an ad that had attracted little notice before Johnson angrily condemned it. This was a television spot, aired by the Murphy campaign, narrated by a mother with a son who was born in 2001 with a cleft palate and lip. The mother, a Burlington woman and occasionally active Democrat named Erin McCall-Goldie, says in the ad that Murphy had helped her get state legislation passed to secure insurance reimbursement for her child's expensive surgery.

The ad strongly implies that Murphy helped her after Johnson refused to do so. What Johnson considered a fundamental misimpression drove her to call the press conference and condemn the ad.

A closer look at the timeline involved shows that McCall-Goldie tried to get Johnson to sponsor a similar bill in Congress, but this was years after she had been helped by Murphy's legislation. It was the Burlington woman's more recent attempt to help families nationwide with the same problem that Johnson rejected.

But Johnson's criticism of the ad was drowned out by a host of additional charges - many of them untrue - that she lobbed at her press conference.

The McCall-Goldie ad first aired on Sunday, and three days later Johnson held her news conference at the Legislative Office Building to castigate Murphy. Her voice quivering, Johnson labeled the ad "maliciously dishonest, " and introduced a string of Republican state legislators and health care workers - including two doctors in white lab coats - who shared her view that Murphy had distorted the truth in the ad.

Johnson said that the Murphy ad "was a grave disservice to the voters. The message of the ad is that I didn't help and that he did. At its core, [the ad] is dishonest. .... It reflects a new low in Connecticut politics."

The medical saga in the McCall-Goldie family began in December 2001, when Erin's first child, Connor, was born with a cleft lip and palate. Facing years of surgery and medical bills to surgically repair his condition, McCall-Goldie founded a Connecticut support group, Families Advancing Craniofacial Excellence, and began to lobby the legislature to secure insurance reimbursement for reconstructive and orthodontic surgery. In 2002, her state senator at the time, Kevin Sullivan, introduced her to Murphy, who was chairman of the General Assembly's public health committee.

Within six months, Murphy had held hearings and written and introduced a bill addressing the craniofacial group's needs. "An Act Requiring Health Insurance Coverage for Craniofacial Disorders" was passed and signed by the governor in May 2003.

"Murphy was wonderful," McCall-Goldie said during an interview this week. "He didn't simply present the bill on the Senate floor, but he came out and met all the craniofacial families and got very involved."

Last October, McCall-Goldie learned that similar legislation had just been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Within a week she e-mailed Johnson, asking her to co-sponsor the bill, hoping that Johnson's leadership of the powerful subcommittee on health would make a difference. But McCall-Goldie says that she became increasingly frustrated as months went by and she received no response.

"Nancy Johnson was my congresswoman," McCall-Goldie says. "I had a very severe and expensive medical condition with my son. So I asked for Johnson's help, and she never replied. Never. After a while I realized I should start keeping a record, so I saved all the dates that I called her and got no reply."

Over the summer, McCall-Goldie was able to speak with Johnson, but only because she saw her at the Unionville Fire Parade and the Avon Day festival.

"I had to hunt Nancy Johnson down in a public place, and then do you know what she told me?" McCall-Goldie says. "My congresswoman told me that she couldn't help me because she didn't believe in sponsoring bills that would help just a few people, and that she wasn't in the business of telling insurance companies what to do."

In May, Murphy asked McCall-Goldie to deliver his seconding speech when he was nominated to run against Johnson. In late August, when the Murphy campaign was looking for a way to distinguish his health care record against Johnson's, they decided to film McCall-Goldie.

In the finished ad, McCall-Goldie sits facing the camera as before- and after-surgery pictures of her son are shown. The entire spot is narrated in her voice:

"My son Connor was born with a cleft lip and palate. I worried about his health and whether our insurance would cover expensive corrective surgery for Connor and others like him. I contacted Nancy Johnson's office repeatedly. She never called back. [On screen: "No Response."] But I went to state Senator Chris Murphy and within six months Chris passed a law mandating insurance coverage for reconstructive facial surgery. For us, Chris made the difference."

The Johnson campaign has vigorously argued that, because Murphy is not formally listed as a sponsor of the bill, he is claiming credit for legislation which he did not introduce. Johnson also insisted at her press conference that she had "personally spoken to the woman [McCall-Goldie] twice, months before Murphy began running the ad." The strong impression created by Johnson was that she had returned McCall-Goldie's phone calls.

None of these claims by Johnson has held up to scrutiny.

The state Senate transcript for April 9, 2003, when the craniofacial bill was passed, makes it clear that Murphy not only introduced the bill, but was given credit by Kevin Sullivan for steering it through committee. The Johnson campaign has also conceded that Johnson offered McCall-Goldie no help on the federal bill.

"Yes, it's true, Nancy Johnson did decline to sponsor the legislation," says press aide Brian Schubert. "Health insurance mandates are the purview of state legislatures, not the federal government."

Schubert also says that there is no evidence that Johnson's office answered McCall-Goldie's e-mail, and confirms that Johnson never returned McCall-Goldie's calls.

By this weekend, as the first debate between Murphy and Johnson approached, it seemed clear that the damage to Johnson's credibility might go well beyond this single ad. Two of Johnson's ads - one accusing Murphy of voting 27 times to raise taxes, and another attacking his position on the surveillance of known terrorists - have been criticized for distorting Murphy's positions.

1 Comments:

Blogger ki kelly said...

The Courant did a good job on this one but it didn't make much difference to Nancy. She's still running that ad. She really can be shameless.

10:45 PM  

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