/ Modified nov 1, 2011 11:38 a.m.

Are Tucson Election Ads True?

Check the accuracy of information circulating on TV and in mailboxes throughout the city

ad watch spotlight


Tucson voters are getting a lot of information from candidates running for mayor and City Council seats, both on television and in their mailboxes. Some of that information requires further explanation, or clarification. Here's a look at a sampling of the ads and fliers circulating this election cycle.

Republican Rick Grinnell and Democrat Jonathan Rothschild are competing for the mayor's seat. Both are airing TV ads to introduce themselves to voters, but Grinnell has a second TV ad that goes after Rothschild's allegiance with the Democrats on the City Council. (Watch the video at the end of this story to see clips from these television ads.)

The ad includes a graphic that says the five Democrats already on the council support Rothschild, which is true, according to Rothschild's campaign website.

It also says the Democrats on the council vote together 98 percent of the time. That claim is harder to verify, given the number of votes the council takes on matters ranging from high-profile matters such as the city budget to the mundane, such as approving the minutes from previous meetings.

While Rothschild hasn't aired an attack ad against Grinnell on television, he does have a mailer circulating that highlights Grinnell's statement earlier in the election cycle suggesting city trash service be cut back to once every two weeks.

Rothschild ad grinnell trash Democratic Mayoral candidate Jonathan Rothschild sent this mailer to voters, targeting Republican Mayoral candidate Rick Grinnell.

Grinnell did say that was one of many ideas he has for streamlining city government.

Another statement on the ad says, "Grinnell is the state legislature's man on the Rio Nuevo Board." That is true in the sense that every member of the Rio Nuevo Board is appointed by the Legislature. It is not a claim that applies solely to Grinnell.

The Arizona Republican Party is sending two fliers to voters about the city's 911 emergency call system.

911 ads spotlight The Arizona Republican Party sent these two fliers to voters in the Tucson City election. One includes a quote from the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, the other includes a quote from Vice President Joe Biden.

One of the fliers says, "When you call 911 you expect someone to answer." The flier includes the image of a person holding a telephone receiver, and then a quote attributed to the Arizona Daily Star.

It says, "But because of the City Council there might not be anyone on the other end." That quote is attributed to the Arizona Daily Star on Oct. 7, 2010. A Website and archives search yielded no article with that quote, and a Star editor also failed to find the source for that citation. The Arizona Republican Party did not respond to a request to provide the source article.

The other 911 call system flier includes a picture of Vice President Joe Biden and City Councilman Paul Cunningham. It says, "Vice President Joe Biden thinks Paul Cunningham is WRONG on 911 cuts." It then cites a quote from Biden on ABC News: "It's not temporary when that 911 call comes in and a woman's being raped, if a cop shows up in time to prevent the rape. It's not temporary to that woman."

The quote from Biden is actually something he said in response to criticism that some of the jobs created in President Obama's jobs plan would only provide temporary employment. It is not a response to city cuts to the 911 budget or problems with the city 911 call center.

The other half of the flier says, "Paul Cunningham voted to cut 911 while giving pay raises to his political cronies."

The 911 system was cut as part of the city's budget earlier this year, but Cunningham did not vote to give pay raises to employees who received them in the city manager's office. Those raises were approved by then-city manager Mike Letcher. A few months later, Cunningham and the rest of the council unanimously fired Letcher.

The claim about Cunningham giving raises is repeated in a television ad that Republican council candidate Jennifer Rawson is airing. Rawson's ad is not posted on her campaign website, and she has not returned repeated calls requesting a copy of the commercial.

Another flier from the Arizona Republican Party says "The FBI is investigating the Tucson City Council after $230 million went missing from Rio Nuevo." The Arizona attorney general's office is said to be working with the FBI, but as a standard policy, AG officials won't confirm investigations. The Rio Nuevo Board is the entity responsible for the downtown redevelopment district and that taxes that fund it, but the city was involved in the spending decisions in years past.

Other mailings or ads may need clarification, but aren't wrong.

Grinnell's campaign sent a flier with a list of quotes from people who have endorsed him. One is attributed to Roger Yohem in Inside Tucson Business.

Grinnell ad quote spotlight A flier sent to voters from Republican Tucson Mayoral Candidate Rick Grinnell, including a quote from an Inside Tucson Business article.

While Yohem did write the quote, it was not in an endorsement article. The quote is from a January 2010 article about Grinnell's effort, at the time, to recall some City Council members.

And in a TV commercial, Democrat Paul Cunningham uses a photo of himself in his military uniform, and an announcer says, "Paul Cunningham brings 20 years of service to the City Council."

cunningham ad A screen shot from Democrat Paul Cunningham's television advertisement.

While Cunningham did serve in the National Guard, as the photo shows, his resume says he was in the service for nine years, 1992-2001. The other 11 years of service cited in the statement include his involvement in community organizations.

Find links to information about all of the candidates in the city election by clicking on the AZPM city elections page.

Watch clips of the television ads here:

Christopher Conover and Andrea Kelly take a closer look at political ads. (VIDEO: AZPM)
By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
Arizona Public Media broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents. Arizona Public Media and AZPM are registered trademarks of the Arizona Board of Regents.
The University of Arizona