Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FACT CHECK: AZ GOP Chair Tries To Tie Harry Mitchell To The Tracks, But Uses Faulty Rope And Comes Out The Villain

Apparently, Democrats hammering away at GOP nominee David Schweikert (CD5) has struck a nerve.  This afternoon, AZ GOP Chair Randy Pullen attempts to smear incumbent Rep. Harry Mitchell with real estate-related allegations.  Upon review, however, the reports he uses fall apart quickly.

Pullen's news release is headlined "All Aboard For Self-Interest."  The money quote from Pullen: "The reports coming out about Congressman Mitchell requesting millions for a Metro light rail study is especially troubling. If he has financially benefited from an insider information voters should hold him accountable. Evidently, when people say that the country is on the wrong track, they meant it literally and figuratively."

I had not heard of these "reports", so some investigation was necessary.  It turns out that it was written by (one or) two Republican operatives/researchers/journalists who posted their faulty analysis on RedState.com.  They titled it "Harry Mitchell Is the Poster Boy For Earmark Reform".  (Amazingly, it was picked up and re-posted verbatim in Schweikert's website's newsroom later that day.)

The substance that so excited Pullen is that Rep. Mitchell has requested $6.4 Million dollars for preliminary engineering for extension of Phoenix' light rail (hence all of the train puns from Pullen - and Arizona's Politics).  As RedSky explains, "Sounds great, except Mitchell’s company owns three homes in that study area."

However, the three small (824-1,188 sq.ft.), old (1945-1965) homes west of the ASU campus are NOT in the study area.*  They ARE close to the study area and would be within walking distance of a potential streetcar line in the ASU area; however, to even suggest that  the near-the-study-area houses would benefit from the transit extension is hard to imagine.  That neighborhood is extremely campus-centric and that would not change;  if anything, easier mass transit access to ASU from south Tempe and north Chandler would likely make it easier for Mitchell's future potential tenants to live farther away from campus.

The RedSky post concludes by claiming that there was no excuse for Mitchell not to sell the student homes when he went to Congress, and accuses him of "us(ing) the earmarking process to make some money on the side."

Bad enough, but Pullen pulled it farther into falsity and ludicrousness when he made the allegation (in the form of asking a question) that Mitchell "financially benefited from an (sic) insider information."

The GOP Chair gets a grade of "F" - for failure and falseness - for this feeble effort to counter the Democrats' drumbeat on Schweikert's real estate activities.

*Study area is bounded on the west by the railroad tracks; MCC Property Investments owns three properties on Roosevelt Street, which is west of the tracks.  By the way, Mitchell does not "run" MCC Property Investments, as alleged by RedSky.  And, property baron that he is, MCC only owns one other property in Maricopa County, and Mitchell personally owns only his Tempe home - which, by the way, IS in the study area.

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