Fact check: How accurate are attack ads in balance of power Senate race?

KING 5 Political Reporter Natalie Brand reports.

If you live in the 45th Legislative District on the Eastside, then a flood of political attack ads has probably hit your mailbox and television screen.

More than $3.6 million in opposition spending has been raised by outside groups—much of it funding negative advertising in the balance of power battle that will determine who controls the state senate next year.

Related: Meet the candidates in the race for Legislative District 45 

Related: State senate race sets new spending record

“Seems like both sides have gone hog wild,” said voter Rich Skinner.

Residents in the district report receiving multiple fliers each day.

“They go into the recycle bin,” said Linda Skinner.

“Almost immediately,” added Rich.

“I think it’s very disappointing when we can’t just stick with the issues,” said Caroline Bombar-Kaplan, who also lives in the district.

Research is mixed as to whether negative ads actually work, but it's important to pay attention to who pays for them. The most misleading of the LD 45 ads are paid for by political action committees, not the candidates. The disclaimer can be found in the fine print or at the end of the TV commercial.

KING 5 conducted a quick fact check of a couple of the ads, including one that questions Democratic candidate Manka Dhingra’s record as a King County prosecutor.

“Dhingra’s shockingly light sentences led to more crime,” reads the ad that then goes on to cite a handful of cases.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, a Republican, called the ad a lie. A spokesman says the cases referenced would have been negotiated and approved by a senior deputy prosecutor, not Dhingra, who was at the beginning of her career at the time.

Her campaign located court documents for a couple of the cases which reveal another prosecutor signed off on the plea agreements. 

One of the cases referenced also includes misleading information about the timeline of crimes involved. 

“A drug dealer who later murdered a victim with three shots to the head,” reads an ominous voice in the TV ad.

The suspect in that case, who pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of cocaine, received a jail sentence of 30 days. While the maximum standard sentence for that offense could have been 90 days, the murder occurred eight years later.

Meanwhile, ads attacking Republican candidate Jinyoung Lee Englund focus on linking her to President Donald Trump.

One flier includes a magnifying glass and says Englund is trying to hide party affiliation, pointing to a barely visible (R) next to her name. The Englund campaign says the "R" found on their campaign material meets Public Disclosure Commission size requirements and adds “we’ve never hidden that she is the Republican candidate.”

A citizen complaint was filed over the size of the letter. A spokeswoman with the Public Disclosure Commission says the case is still under review.

Another line in the flier says Englund “called Trump magnificent and said she really respects him as President.”

Englund, who did not vote for then-candidate Trump, actually called him “a magnificent entertainer” during a forum in Australia last year, according to her campaign.

A spokeswoman said the respect comment was made in the context of respecting him as the Commander-in-Chief since her husband is a Major in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Is there a political ad that you would like fact checked? Send it to nbrand@king5.com, and we will try to get you answers. 

© 2017 KING-TV


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