Tenney Falsely Accuses Brindisi of Lying on Impeachment, Support for Police
TWN FACT CHECK
This is the first installment of an ongoing series of political advertising fact checks during the 2020 campaign. If you would like to submit an advertisement for consideration, please email a link to [email protected].
In a television and Internet ad running in New York State’s 22nd Congressional District, the campaign committee for Republican challenger Claudia Tenney claims incumbent Democrat Rep. Anthony Brindisi “lied” about his support for impeaching President Donald Trump and that he voted to defund police after vowing he wouldn’t.
In both cases, the claims are not true.
The 30-second spot, paid for by Tenney for NY CD-22, features audio of Brindisi saying in the early Autumn of 2019, “I, at this point, do not support impeachment.”
“Then he did,” the voice over announcer says. “He lied.”
In fact, Brindisi, a first-term congressman elected in a congressional district Trump won by 15 percentage points in 2016, repeatedly stated during the late summer and early autumn of 2019 that he thought it “far too early to discuss impeachment.”
“There are investigations happening. As I’ve said, this is a very sad time for our country. We should treat this with the utmost respect and give it the attention it deserves.”
For weeks thereafter, the Utica Democrat garnered national attention as a possible defector from his party on the impeachment vote, but he never said he wouldn’t consider voting yes on impeachment if he believed the facts warranted it.
When he announced his decision instead to vote for impeachment, Brindisi said he was doing so only because he was convinced by the outcome of Congressional investigations — and the actual wording of the Articles of Impeachment — that it was the right thing to do.
“The fact this president withheld aid from Ukraine for his own political gain is very troubling,” Brindisi told Syracuse.com/The Post-Standard. “In fact, I think it’s unconstitutional.”
The newspaper noted that Brindisi had repeatedly visited the White House for private meetings with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss issues ranging from trade to national security.
“President Trump is my president, too,” Brindisi said at the time. “I always said I would work with him, but that I would put our country first and stand up for what I believe in.”
He added: “I know some people will be upset with me, but I was elected to do what was right, not what’s good for me politically.”
The Tenney advertisement then assails Brindisi for turning “his back on the blue” and voting “with Pelosi to defund our local law enforcement.”
The bill the ad is referencing is the George Floyd Justice in Policy Act, which the congressman did indeed vote for; but while critics of the bill, like Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy suggested the legislation would defund the police, it does not.
Instead, the bill conditions federal support for police departments on their taking deliberate steps, like banning chokeholds, to address long standing issues between police and the communities they serve.
The National Institutes of Health has noted a similar funding tactic was used to increase the drinking age to 21.
Further, the BBC reported that the Justice in Policing Act was actually an attempt to “head off” efforts to defund the police.
“The reform package, crafted by Democratic leaders in Congress, can be viewed as the ‘official’ position of the party – at least for now,” the BBC said.
It is, in part, an effort to head off more drastic measures that some on the left, under the slogan ‘defund the police’, are pushing.
In the lead up to the vote on the bill, PBS reported, “The bill also comes amid calls to defund the police. Some activists are pushing for dismantling police departments and replacing them with public safety organizations.
“Others want to have police departments’ budgets reduced and that money invested in other areas like education, housing and community initiatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this bill does not defund the police and that instead she and others are pushing for sweeping changes in policing through departments,” the report said.
Brindisi later pushed for an amendment to increase the COPS Grant by $350 million, a move that would double funding for a police hiring program in Utica.
The Well News contacted the Tenney campaign to secure a copy of its background research document for the advertisement. Those attempts included emails, the first sent over a week ago, and a telephone call placed Tuesday afternoon.
The campaign did not respond.
To those who want to fact check political advertisements themselves, here are a few simple suggestions: first, go back to primary sources and interviews on line and see what the candidates actually said in the context of events. Secondly, make note of oversimplification of complex issues and whether what is being claimed in an ad is backed up by clear references to the sources of those claims.