FOLLOWING MONEY IN 2016 PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

Thursday, May 29, 2014

FIRST WATCH and INSTANT FACT CHECK: Benghazi and Hillary Clinton Become Issues In GOP's Arizona Governor Primary; Dark Money Group Attacks Christine Jones (FOLLOWING MONEY IN ARIZONA'S POLITICS)

Another out of state, outside "dark money"* organization is wading into Arizona's GOP Governor's primary battle.  This one attacks Christine Jones for praising Hillary Clinton.

Veterans for a Strong America ("VSA") is spending $50,000 to run the 30-second spot attacking Christine Jones' praise for Hillary Clinton following the Benghazi terrorist attack.  VSA Chairman Joel Arends tells Arizona's Politics that there "is a lot of energy on this Benghazi issue" and that Jones' comments prompted a rush of donations to his 501(c)(4) organization.

He also states "We won't let Hillary Clinton or her supporters like Christine Jones whitewash what happened to them (the four killed)."


FACT CHECK
The ad uses two quotes from Jones' blog in late 2012 and early 2013 to label Jones as a Hillary "sympathizer" and to indicate that Jones is not concerned about the September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi which killed four Americans (including Ambassador Christopher Stevens).  The FULL quotes are below the jump, with the parts used in the ad highlighted.

However, the quotes and connections are slightly misleading and slightly tenuous.  The quotes are from Jones' recap of her 2012, pre-Benghazi predictions, and her prediction for 2013.  The first cannot properly be used to tie Jones to "whitewash(ing)" Benghazi.  The second prediction also does not mention Benghazi, and it can be argued that Jones is praising Clinton's overall record as Secretary of State.

The only time Jones discussed Benghazi was at the end of 2013, when she was already running for Governor.  In that post discussing her previous predictions, Jones notes that she has "taken a surprising amount of heat for this prediction.Somehow, readers took this prediction as an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Nothing could be further from the truth."

This Jones' walk-back goes on to distance herself from Clinton, and how she had "completely failed to respond" to Benghazi.  Her final explanation is that Clinton looks like the "adult in the room" compared to everyone else in the Obama Administration. Jones also posted a video a month ago in which she articulated the differences between her and Clinton.
Of course, Jones' pre-gubernatorial campaign comments DO praise Clinton without such qualifications, even after Benghazi.  But, taken in the overall context - including her subsequent statement - the ad still misleads by dating the re-hash of her pre-Benghazi "prediction" as a post-Benghazi whitewashing praise.  In addition, the ad spotlights Benghazi, but Jones' comments can encompass Clinton's entire record as Secretary of State without being a "whitewash".

Arizona's Politics grades the ad as a "C+".

VSA's SUDDEN INVOLVEMENT and TIES TO DUCEY
Arends indicates that the ad begins running on cable systems throughout the state, and that it would run on several cable networks that would be most likely to impact people voting in the August 26 GOP primary.

He acknowledges that this is the first time that VSA has become involved in a "non-federal race", but he indicates that recent articles about Jones implying that she had joined the U.S. Air Force had been brought to his attention, got him poking around, and subsequently energized VSA supporters.  Arends says that donations from a number of individuals permitted VSA to make this ad buy.

He told Arizona's Politics that he respects the privacy of donors to his social welfare organization.

Arends and VSA has retained well-known Arizona political operative Sean Noble in the past, including for a much-discussed ad using quotes from President Obama to claim that he was "spiking the football" regarding the killing of Osama bin Laden.  That ad was determined to misleadingly "skew(ing) facts."  (The ad is below the jump.)

The VSA is the latest in a series from outside dark money groups either praising Arizona Treasurer - and candidate for Governor - Doug Ducey and/or attacking his primary opponents.  The ties between Ducey and Noble date back to the 2012 campaign, when Ducey was chair of the group opposing the extension of the state sales tax increase and Noble's Americans for Responsible Leadership became the major dark money funding group for the effort.  Today's ad is another key data point.
https://images-blogger-opensocial.googleusercontent.com/gadgets/proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2F1.bp.blogspot.com%2F-S0D3huriCRA%2FU4eG3xRZGDI%2FAAAAAAAAAAk%2FCNC-babL4yc%2Fs1600%2Fjones%2Bclinton%2Bvsa%2Bad.PNG&container=blogger&gadget=a&rewriteMime=image%2F*

(Go below the jump to read Jones' blog posts regarding Clinton, and to watch the VSA/Noble ad attacking Obama for "spiking the football.")


12/29/2012 "2012 Scorecard" blog post (1st paragraph re-posts 1/12 prediction):
4. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, will continue to stand out as a capable and respected leader and a commanding presence in US international relations, causing even more Democrats to wonder why she wasn't their candidate in 2008, and calling for her to replace vice president Biden as president Obama's running mate in the 2012 general election, or better yet, to challenge the president in a Democratic primary.

TRUE.  In fact, Secretary Clinton's recent resignation as Secretary of State has generated all sorts of talk about her inevitable run for president in 2016.  She has made her boss and her party look good with her tireless efforts to represent the US abroad for the past four years.  She will be a formidable force in the coming years.

6.  Americans, regardless of party-affiliation or political involvement, will begin to realize what an effective Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was, as her replacement begins to be scrutinized for failing to live up to the incredibly high standard she set.
6.  Last year, we predicted that Americans, regardless of party-affiliation or political involvement, will begin to realize what an effective Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was, as her replacement begins to be scrutinized for failing to live up to the incredibly high standard she set.
TRUE. I have taken a surprising amount of heat for this prediction. Somehow, readers took this prediction as an endorsement of Hillary Clinton. Nothing could be further from the truth. My politics and hers could not be more different: she is a big government, tax and spend liberal; I am a committed conservative, dedicated to fiercely defending the constitution and the principles upon which this country was founded. Furthermore, as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton presided over one of the most tragic incidents in recent history when she completely failed to respond to the attacks on the US Consulate in Benghazi. Even if that were her only mistake, and it was not, that single event was disastrous enough to be her political undoing. Nevertheless, when you compare her to the likes of Susan Rice, Eric Holder, and John Kerry, Hillary Clinton strikes me as the adult in the room. And, that is a sad commentary on the current administration.



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