i9 Fact Checker: Ad distorts Sen. Mathis’ position on police funding

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 6:24 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Republican advocacy groups are trying to convince voters State Senator Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids) is too liberal for Iowa in multiple attack ads.

Sen. Mathis is running against Congresswoman Ashley Hinson (R-01) in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. The cook political report currently ranks the race, likely Republican.

Source: Congressional Leadership Fund

According to the group’s website, the Congressional Leadership Fund is a Republican-leaning Super Political Action Committee (PAC) with the goal of winning a Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

The group, which is backed by GOP leadership in the House, said it’s spending $1.25 Million on the race in Iowa’s Second Congressional District. It announced plans to spend more than $150 Million in ad placements across the country.

Claim #1: “Mathis marched with a far-left group that wants to defund the police”

Analysis: The ad is referring to a tweet with a photo showing Sen. Liz Mathis with other people, including children, around Indivisible Iowa’s banner at the Hiawatha Fun Fest parade. The event, according to photos on Facebook, features bouncy castles, rock walls and train rides for children.

The photo was taken in 2017, which is more than 5 years before Invisible Iowa’s national group announced its support for defunding the police and reinvesting the money into community services.

Rep. Ashley Hinson also organized to march in Hiawatha’s Fun Fest in 2017 when she was running for the statehouse, according to a Facebook event page.

Sen. Mathis also has an ad airing on TV9 declaring she doesn’t support defunding police. She also voted for a bill in the Iowa Senate this year, which would cut state funds for cities that reduce their law enforcement budgets more than they reduce their entire budgets as a whole.

Conclusion: This claim distorts Sen. Mathis’ position on the funding of law enforcement. It’s also worth noting the community parade isn’t a protest to defund the police. This claim gets an F.

Claim #2: “She then hired a defund the police activist to help run her campaign”

Analysis: This ad cites an article from the Iowa Field Report, which is a conservative news outlet. The article refers to two of five staff members on Liz Mathis’ campaign.

The story, which is by a political operative providing political consulting services, (according to LinkedIn) uses Catie Wiltanger’s tweets from September 2021. Her tweets advocate for a candidate in Des Moines, touting her stance to defund the police.

The story also used tweets from Connor Wooff in June 2020 asking for the University of Iowa to end its relationship with Iowa City Police after tear gas was used on protestors. But he never suggests or advocates defunding law enforcement.

Again, Sen. Liz Mathis voted for a bill in the Iowa Senate this year, which would cut state funds for cities that reduce their law enforcement budgets more than they reduce their entire budgets as a whole.

Conclusion: It’s true at least one staff member supported defunding the police, based on a tweet. But, her stance isn’t Sen. Mathis’ political view. That’s why this claim is getting a B.

Claim #3: “And Mathis is backed by a group pushing the Green New Deal that would hurt Iowa farmers.”

Analysis: This claim is referring to Sen. Liz Mathis being endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters in February. The League of Conservation Voters is an advocacy group based in Washington D.C., which advocates for policies protecting clean air, public lands and clean water.

The group made a statement in February 2019 announcing its support for the Green New Deal. The Green New Deal is a nonbinding resolution, which means it wouldn’t become law, of different goals and reforms to address climate change and economic inequality.

Those include goals to get the country to net-zero carbon emissions, meeting 100% of the country’s power demand through renewable energy sources and Medicare-For-All. The Green New Deal doesn’t specifically explain specifically how it would reach its goals like net-zero carbon emissions.

This ad uses a 2020 article from The Gazette among others as proof the policy would hurt farmers in Iowa. The story said the plan could increase costs in agriculture, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Farm Bureau.

Sen. Liz Mathis doesn’t support the Green New Deal, according to her campaign.

Conclusion: Sen. Mathis is being backed by a group, that supports the Green New Deal. However, she doesn’t support the Green New Deal and the ad misleads the audience enough to give this claim a C.