Thursday, October 28, 2010

FACT CHECK: State Leg Candidate Blankets District With Signs Claiming Opponent Smearing Him

(Updated 10/29: Now that we have all seen the mysterious mailer that prompted this flurry of activity, we have updated this piece.  In addition, in response to a senatorial caller, we have further clarified that Scott Bundgaard did not write the blog post discussed herein, and that he only is one of the contributors to the group blog/website.  Please see our new Fact Check of the mailer itself, and check back for our report on the origin of the mailer.)

Previous post is here.  To recap: Jeff Dial, Republican candidate for a State House seat in LD20 (Southeast Valley), posted large (8' X 4') signs this week calling out Democratic incumbent Rep. Rae Waters for "dirty last minute smears".  Text:

"Rae Waters, why the dirty last minute smears against Dial? The attacks aren't true. Get the facts. Visit"
The website obviously provides more details, though even those are not sufficient to judge truth or falsity.

First, to Fact Check the sign as a stand-alone, as that is how most people will receive Dial's message.  The sign gives the message that Rae Waters is somehow smearing Dial, that the attacks are dirty and not true.  However, there is absolutely nothing to support the overwhelming impression that Waters has attacked Dial. 

Therefore, without even considering the dirtiness or the truth of the alleged smears, and because the signs are extremely misleading and not accurate, the Dial campaign receives an "F" for the signs.

Next, to Fact Check the web page (  It is an interesting task to try to Fact Check the responses from the Dial campaign, because it veiled what the alleged attacks actually were (likely, in order not to repeat them).  Piecing it together was a challenge, and Mr. Dial did not respond to our inquiry.  Fortunately, thanks to a neighbor, we were able to obtain the piece, posted here.

Here are a couple of the claims on the web page:
--Waters is behind in the polls.
--"She and her union supporters have resorted to last minute smears against State Representative candidate Jeff Dial." (emphasis added)

Although I personally received an automated phone survey on the race earlier this week, there has been no polling information available publicly.  There is nothing cited to back up the claim.

More troubling is the claim that Waters is co-responsible for the mailer(s) that prompted Dial's signs and web page.  On the signs - due to the limited space - it is almost understandable that it is not clear that Waters does not have anything to do with the independent expenditure mailer from the SEIU (and other unions?);  however, there is no such limitation - and no such excuse - on the web page.  Dial deliberately asserts that Waters has some responsibility for the mailers, although there is no support for that (and it seems highly unlikely, given Arizona campaign law).

Additionally, the mailer was "Paid for by East Valley Education Council. Funding from Arizona List."  A review of the EVEC and the Arizona List financial statements reveal (a) Arizona List provided the entire $20,000 contributed to EVEC; and (b) that the Arizona List only lists contributions from individuals.  Nowhere are SEIU's fingerprints (nor any other union's or group's) on the mailer! 

The difficult part to Fact Check is the "Get the Facts" portion of Dial's web page. Here is the text of the first portion:

SOURCE OF SMEAR 1?: An anonymous blog post on the Internet

FACT 1: Jeff Dial is the current chairman of Republican Professionals. (All claims
against him and his involvement with Republican Professionals are
completely false.)
Through the magic of Google, we were able to find the apparent blog post that the mailer apparently relies upon. It is a lengthy post from 2009 - on a so-called "group blog"/website called "Politico Mafioso" (it lists  four as contributors, including former Rep. Scott Bundgaard) - that appears to detail quite the infighting in Phoenix-area Republican circles.  It appears there was a split among "Republican Professionals" groups, that Dial and others may have kept control of a competing group, etc.  It also appears that part of the cause for the infighting and/or split were allegations against Dial by a number of women involved in one of the groups.

This reading of the blog post seems to be supported by the letters that Dial presents on the web page.  He presents a letter (dated 10/25/10) that promises legal action against those that libeled Dial in the mailers and says Dial is still involved with the Republican Professionals.  The 2nd letter is from a "Female President of... Chapter", and she notes that "he is extremely respectful toward women."

The next section addresses an apparent allegation (in the mailer) that Dial did not actually graduate from ASU:

                                        SOURCE OF SMEAR 2?: A retracted newspaper story
                    FACT 2: Jeff Dial Graduated from Arizona State University.
To assert that Mr. Dial did not graduate from Arizona State University is

Mr. Dial then displays a copy of his diploma from ASU.  The mailer does not assert that he did not graduate;  rather it asserts that he "lied about his education" when he allegedly told an Arizona Republic reporter that he had graduated in Spring, 2004.  He graduated in August, which is when the Republic article was run.

Arizona's Politics still has calls out to Dial, Arizona List and the SEIU.  It is possible that one or more of them may shed additional light on the allegations that are not apparent at this time.  Therefore, the grades on this page are still subject to review. 
Based upon the unsupported claims of polling data showing Waters behind (and, presumably, desperate), and the unsupported claims that Waters is (partly) responsible for the mailer(s), Dial must receive another* "F".

SUMMARY:  Two "F's" for Jeff Dial, one for the signs themselves, and one for the claims on the web page. 
*Ironically, the Arizona Republic found a portion of Dial's website to be "False".  Dial has failed to change that portion, and Arizona's Politics has repeatedly followed up.  The mailer does use the Republic's Fact Check (but not our follow-ups), and Dial does not address that on his responsive web page.

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com. Thanks.


Schloeder said...

You claim:

"Jeff Dial, Republican candidate for a State House seat in LD20 (Southeast Valley), posted large (8' X 4') signs this week calling out Democratic incumbent Rep. Rae Waters for "dirty last minute smears"."

That this is "Dial's message".

That this is "the Dial campaign"

That "Dial deliberately asserts that Waters has some responsibility for the mailers"


The website and the signs are promoted by "Friends of Jeff Dial" -- presumably supporters of Dial but not the official Dial Campaign. Yet you state as a fact that this is something Dial himself has done.

You are quick to distance Waters from her supporters who you acknowledge smeared Dial, but you fail to afford Dial the same distance from those who acting apart from his official campaign.

Mitch M. said...

Thanks for commenting, Schloeder. However, you are incorrect. "Friends of Jeff Dial" IS Dial's official committee, whereas it is an INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE group - which, by definition, should be independent of the candidate - that sent out the mailer.