Caught Applying A Double Standard

The liberal group attacks 3 Republicans for voting for military spending bills, but endorses Democrats who voted the same way.

Summary Political Action attacks three Republican House members in TV ads saying they were "caught red-handed" supporting money spent on Halliburton contracts and wasteful Iraq projects. But a majority of Democrats voted the same way on most of the same measures, usually overwhelmingly. MoveOn endorses one Democratic House member who voted the same way 10 out of 14 times, and two senators who voted for the same measures every time they reached a recorded vote in the Senate.

Another ad says the same three Republicans were "caught red-handed" taking donations from military contractors while failing to support penalties for contractors who overcharge. In fact the donations were relatively small and MoveOn offers no evidence the votes were influenced by money. Furthermore severe penalties already exist for fraud against the Pentagon. What the targeted Republicans opposed were Democratic proposals to increase penalties.


A Double Standard

"Dumping Billions" shows dump trucks dropping bags of money in a desert while an announcer questions what happened to $300 billion Congress sent to Iraq � including $18 billion for Halliburton and $9 billion that's "just plain missing." The ad then says that "our Congressman . . . has been caught red-handed voting for all of it," as a black-and-white picture appears with the Congressman's hand painted red.

To begin with, none of the three targeted Republicans voted specifically for money for Halliburton, and obviously there's no line item for "missing" money in appropriations bills either. The ad faults them for voting for "all of it," meaning all the money spent in Iraq. The problem here is that Democrats generally voted the same way. Even three lawmakers whom MoveOn is specifically endorsing often voted for the same bills being criticized here.

On its website MoveOn lists 14 votes among the three ads � votes on defense appropriation bills and emergency supplementals for the war in Iraq. By casting these votes, according to, these Republicans have been "caught red-handed." However, Democrats usually voted the same way, overwhelmingly. On only 2 of the 14 votes did a majority of House Democrats vote in opposition, both votes on the $87 billion Iraq/Afghanistan supplemental approrpriation that came up in the heat of the 2004 presidential campaign. Even these got 82 and 83 Democratic votes, respectively. On the rest, an average of 165 House Democrats � better than three out of four � voted the same way as the Republicans that MoveOn is attacking.

MoveOn endorses three incumbent lawmakers, Democratic Senators Robert Byrd of West Virginia and and Bill Nelson of Florida, and Democratic Rep.Sherrod Brown of Ohio (who is running for the Senate this year). How do these lawmakers hold up against MoveOn's own standard? Not well.

Of the fourteen votes, Brown voted with Sweeney, Kuhl, and Bass ten times (and was listed as "not voting" once). Byrd and Nelson had six opportunities to cast recorded votes on identical conference reports, and voted in favor every time. By MoveOn's own logic, their candidates have been "caught red-handed" too, just a bit less often than the three Republican targets.

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