A new television ad by Republican 3rd District Congressional candidate Erik Paulsen exaggerates and misleads in an attempt to tie Democratic opponent Dean Phillips to another candidate accused of domestic abuse.
“Sleazy Keith Ellison and Shady Dean Phillips both caught up in another sexual harassment scandal,” says the new ad, making it sound like the two are caught up in the same sexual harassment scandal.
“Ellison accused of physical abuse,” the ad continues. “Phillips charged with ignoring sexual harassment and discrimination at his companies.”
It is true Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison has been accused of domestic abuse by a former girlfriend. Ellison, who is now running for Minnesota attorney general, has repeatedly denied the accusation.
As for the allegation against Phillips, it centers on a 2007 lawsuit filed against Allina Health regarding sexual harassment allegations against a doctor at one of Allina’s 60 clinics at the time. Phillips was on the board of Allina, but there’s no evidence he was “ignoring sexual harassment.”
A news account of the lawsuit back then quotes a letter sent to an Allina board member supporting the lawsuit and vouching for the allegations.
The doctor says the sexual harassment was being “covered up by the Allina administration.” However, there’s no evidence the letter was sent to Phillips.
A spokesman for Phillips said he has no recollection of receiving such a letter.
The attorney for the women who sued claims Phillips was never involved in the case.
How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test
At the end of every “Truth Test,” 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS and KSTP.com assign the tested political ad a grade.
Here’s the criteria we use to determine that grade:
- An “A” requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.
- A “B” requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations and misleading information.
- A “C” can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads and gives the viewer no context.
- A “D” is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.
- An “F” is the result of more than half the information being outright false as well as misleading and out of context.
“Let me be clear,” attorney Lori Peterson said in an email. “This lawsuit had absolutely NOTHING to do with Dean Phillips. No allegations were made about Mr. Phillips and he had no involvement in this matter.
“In fact, I’d never even heard of him until this election campaign started.”
In a follow-up email Peterson said she’s not a Phillips supporter and hasn’t donated to his campaign. She said she simply wanted to set the record straight.
Because this ad mixes one true claim with other misleading and exaggerated claims, it leaves a false impression. Thus, it gets a D-minus on the “Truth Test.”
By Tom Hauser, KSTP