Richard Carlbom: 651-261-1306
Erik Paulsen Repeats False and Misleading Claims in TPT Debate
Paulsen’s historically dishonest and negative campaign is beginning to backfire
Throughout the course of last evening’s Third District Congressional debate, Congressman Erik Paulsen repeatedly made false claims about both his own record and Dean Phillips’s policy priorities. For those watching, it was again clear that the incumbent Congressman is out of ideas and instead is waging one of the most dishonest campaigns in Minnesota history in order to hold onto power at all costs.
“Congressman Paulsen’s dishonest campaign is starting to backfire,” said Zach Rodvold, campaign manager for Phillips for Congress. “Not only is Congressman Paulsen voting with Trump 98% of the time, he’s beginning to behave like him too, using personal insults and slander and telling lie after lie in his ads and in public appearances. That’s why more and more former Erik Paulsen supporters are joining the Dean Team every day.”
“I’ve simply had it,” said one of Paulsen’s former supporters, David Hawes from Minnetonka, who has voted for Paulsen four times. “Erik Paulsen is running the worst smear campaign Minnesota has ever seen — and this year I am switching my vote to Dean Phillips.”
Here is a look at Paulsen’s campaign of dishonesty as displayed in last night’s debate:
On Paulsen voting with President Trump 98% of the time:
PAULSEN: “I’ve been a strong advocate actually opposite of the President on some of these issues.”
THE TRUTH: Erik Paulsen has voted with Donald Trump 98% of the time in Congress, despite the fact that Trump received just 41% of the vote in his district two years ago. On immigration specifically, he voted 18 times this year alone to block the DREAM Act, and in 2015 he voted to restart deportations of DACA recipients.
On Paulsen’s deficit-exploding tax bill:
PAULSEN: “The tax cuts average in the Third District are closer to $5,000.”
THE TRUTH: Independent fact-checkers called out this deceptive math, saying, “[T]housands of taxpayers won’t get anywhere near that amount. The new federal tax cuts are skewed heavily toward wealthy taxpayers.” Minnesota is particularly hard hit by the cap on state and local tax deductions, which is why 11 Republicans from districts similar to Minnesota’s 3rd voted against the bill that Paulsen helped write and pass.
PAULSEN: “I am worried about the debt and the deficit.”
THE TRUTH: The GOP tax bill, which Erik Paulsen helped author as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, is estimated to add more than $1.5 trillion to our national debt.
PAULSEN: “Now, under the new tax law, lower and middle income folks are actually paying less of the tax burden. Millionaires like you, Dean, have to pay a little bit more as a share of the federal burden.”
THE TRUTH: The tax bill Paulsen authored, championed and helped pass “handed the biggest benefits to top earners” and is estimated to provide 83% of the benefits to the top 1% after the middle-income tax cuts expire in 2027.
On Paulsen’s and Republican leaders’ plans to cut earned benefits:
PAULSEN: “We’ve actually strengthened Medicare right now. We’ve strengthened Social Security.”
THE TRUTH: GOP leadership in Washington, with whom Congressman Paulsen votes 98% of the time despite calling himself a moderate, plans to pay for tax cuts by cutting earned benefit programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
On Paulsen’s unprecedented negative campaign:
PAULSEN: “Well that is important because Dean has a record of not paying his taxes on time. That’s a pattern that obviously when you want to raise taxes and vote against the tax -ut bill that we wanted to point out as part of that ad.”
THE TRUTH: Dean Phillips has always paid his taxes, and he opposed Paulsen’s tax bill because it was bad for the Third District – raising taxes on thousands of households at all income levels. And Dean wants to make the tax cuts for the middle class permanent, not raise them.
PAULSEN: “You’ve (Dean) been misrepresenting my record in a number of different areas, and so it’s important for me that some questions are raised about your positions and background as well. And that’s appropriate to bring that up.”
THE TRUTH: Dean Phillips is running an honest campaign, and every fact check has verified the claims made in his television ads. Congressman Paulsen’s ads, on the other hand, have been called inappropriate, reckless, false, distorted, not even in the same time zone as truth, extremely misleading, just plain false, and wildly out of context by independent journalists, community leaders, attorneys, sexual-harassment survivors, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans.
On Paulsen’s inaccessibility and refusal to debate in public:
PAULSEN: “We offered to do three additional debates, which your side has not accepted yet… Everyone knows in the district that I am accessible.”
THE TRUTH: On August 10th and again on on August 16th, Dean Phillips invited Congressman Erik Paulsen to join him at free, open-to-the-public, voter forums. After days of silence, Congressman Paulsen finally accepted the invitation to three forums, but with restrictions on participation, and did not offer dates on which he’d make himself available. That’s because Paulsen refuses to appear at open forums in his district. Phillips, meanwhile, has participated in or hosted more than 120 public events since joining the race.
PAULSEN: “You’d have a hard time finding anyone who wouldn’t be able to meet with me if they wanted to.”
THE TRUTH: Independent fact-checkers reviewed Phillips’s “Bigfoot” ad, which poked fun at the Congressman’s notorious inaccessibility, and verified the claims as TRUE and MOSTLY TRUE. When Paulsen made this claim at the only debate with a live audience so far, the audience erupted in laughter.
On Paulsen’s opposition to commonsense gun reforms:
PAULSEN: “This is an easy one because I’ve actually broken ranks on many occasions. I’ve actually pushed forward solutions on gun violence.”
THE TRUTH: Erik Paulsen has accepted more than $21,000 from the NRA, who recently upgraded his rating from an A- to an A and endorsed him in his bid for re-election because he supports their agenda in Congress, including opposing universal background checks despite overwhelming public support, and voting 21 times to block measures that would keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, along with voting to allow domestic abusers to keep their guns.
On the millions in outside spending pouring into the district on Paulsen’s behalf:
PAULSEN: “I have a record of actually having probably the most special-interest money spent against me.”
THE TRUTH: Voters in Minnesota’s Third District have been inundated with negative television attack advertising. To date, GOP-aligned super-PACs and party committees have spent $7.4 million on false ads attacking Dean Phillips, compared to just $2.2 million from groups supporting Phillips. When combined with Paulsen’s own spending — almost all of it on negative ads that have been repeatedly debunked — spending on their coordinated smear campaign on TV alone now equals $10.4 million. Paulsen has also outsourced his voter-engagement operation to the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity Super-PAC Action Fund, and has benefitted from hundreds of thousands of dollars in false and misleading mail.
PAULSEN: “And now Dean welcomes all of this special-interest money that comes in from special-interest groups. It’s all the same thing.”
Phillips offered Congressman the opportunity to run a campaign free of PAC money, self-funding and spending from outside groups, but he repeatedly refused, calling it a ‘gimmick’ despite having challenged Terri Bonoff to sign a similar pledge in 2016. Phillips has taken $0 from PACs. He has taken action to demand truth in political advertising and will fight to make a comprehensive ethics and campaign-finance reform bill the first item on the agenda should he be elected to Congress.
PAULSEN: “I campaign the same way that Amy Klobuchar does, that any other member of the Minnesota delegation does.”
THE TRUTH: Congressman Paulsen is the fourth-largest taker of special-interest PAC money in all of Congress, receiving 51% of his campaign funds from PACs, and less than 3% from small-dollar individual contributions. He has released six television ads this cycle, five of which are personal attacks against Dean Phillips, and none of which have been rated “true” or even “mostly true” by independent fact-checkers. In fact, community leaders have said Erik Paulsen “has exhibited some of the worst behavior and judgment that we have ever seen in a congressional campaign.” That pattern of behavior is unprecedented; it is not the Minnesota Way, or even the norm nationally.
On Paulsen saying he “wasn’t smart enough” to know if climate change is real:
PAULSEN: “I think we should be leading the charge because there are solutions for clean, affordable energy. I’m a strong advocate for renewable energy.”
THE TRUTH: Erik Paulsen has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from fossil-fuel interests, and his voting record has earned him a measly 16% rating from both Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters. In fact, he voted for an energy appropriations bill that cut funding for renewable-energy programs and rolled back clean-water protections just five month ago on June 8, 2018 (HR 5895). To date, he has offered no solutions for addressing the real and urgent threat of climate change.
On the increasing burden of student loan debt:
PAULSEN: “Thankfully, we have a strong, growing, competitive economy now, so young people are getting out, they have upward mobility, they can pay off some of this student loans.… Money coming from the federal government is hurting the students ultimately.”
THE TRUTH: Wage growth is stagnant, and even gainfully employed individuals are being crushed under the burden of student debt. The original House GOP tax bill, which Erik Paulsen authored as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, would’ve raised taxes on students and no longer allowed individuals who are paying off student loans to reduce their tax burden.