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Fact Check: Democrat attack ad goes after Hinson for plagiarizing

Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 7:12 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new ad, "Betrayed Our Trust, has a new attack ad in Iowa’s First Congressional Race where First-term Democrat Abby Finkenauer is facing Republican State Representative Ashley Hinson.

Source: “Betrayed Our Trust” television ad from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Claim #1 – “Ashley Hinson was caught plagiarizing word for word from the Des Moines Register, the New York Times and even her opponent’s own policy positions.”

The New York Times caught Hinson, who is a former KCRG-TV9 News anchor, plagiarizing passages in Op-Ed’s published in her name. The copied passages came from articles in the New York Times, Des Moines Register, CNBC and the Hill. The Times also found near-identical language on her policy positions regarding Veterans Issues as her opponent Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer.

The Op-Eds are no longer available for viewing on her website and the New York Times reported they were taken off her website once the paper notified the campaign.

Here’s one example given in the article….

The Times wrote: “Chinese pharmaceutical companies have supplied more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, as well as 70 percent of acetaminophen and 40 to 45 percent of heparin in recent years, according to Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

Ms. Hinson wrote: “Chinese pharmaceutical companies have supplied more than 90 percent of U.S. antibiotics, vitamin C, ibuprofen and hydrocortisone, as well as 70 percent of acetaminophen and 40 to 45 percent of heparin in recent years.”

According to ProPublica’s Politwoops tool, which keeps track of deleted tweets from politicians, Hinson deleted over 30 different tweets on the day the article from the New York Times came out, some of them linking to those Op-Ed’s.

Hinson, who apologized for the plagiarism, pointed the blame at an employee for a consulting firm she said helped research and write those Op-Eds for her. She said she cut ties with that company and took responsibility for not performing her due diligence on the articles.

The fact that Hinson apologized makes this claim a straightforward ‘A’.

Claim #2 – “And Hinson took thousands from the nursing home industry. When the coronavirus struck, Hinson voted to protect them with special legal immunity.”

The ad shows Matthew Hinch’s name donating to Ashley Hinson’s campaign for congress multiple times. According to state records, Hinch is a registered lobbyist for around 30 different groups including the Des Moines International Airport, the Sac And Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa, State Farm Insurance and the State Fair.

He is also registered for the Iowa Health Care Association, the Iowa Academy of Family Physicians, Unity Point and the Iowa Dental Association.

An I9 review of FEC and state donations found Hinch alone only made a handful of donations totaling less than $2,000. Donations from other people and groups associated with the health industry easily push donations to Hinson into the thousands. It’s worth noting, Finkenauer’s campaign has also taken thousands in donations from health care lobbyists and groups, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The ad then ties in Hinson’s vote in support of SF 2338 in June, which made it harder to sue nursing homes over COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths. It gave the same protections to other businesses, including meatpacking plants.

However, many of the donations cited in the ad came in before COVID-19 was even a thing, so there is no indication Hinson’s vote was because of those donations. The fact Finkenauer has received donations from the medical community, too, undermines that inference. While factually accurate, that inference is why this claim gets a B.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ashley Hinson was a previous TV9 employee and anchor. KCRG TV I9 Investigative Reporter Ethan Stein never worked with Rep. Hinson. KCRG does not endorse political candidates even if a candidate uses KCRG images or videos in political ads.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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