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October 10, 2015

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Ad critical of ’99 Sharron Angle vote not wholly accurate

Early voting begins Saturday, and the Senate race is filling the airwaves. Here’s the latest from Harry Reid. This is another in what I call the “Sharron Angle and the Extremes” series from Team Reid.

The commercial

The ad focuses on a 1999 Assembly bill to create a fund to help nonprofit organizations pay for background checks on volunteers who work with children to see whether they had sexual offenses on their record.

It’s narrated by a family therapist, Roberta Vande Voort, who works with abused children. The narrator says Angle was one of two members of the Assembly to vote against the measure, claiming it was an “invasion of privacy.” The narrator claims Angle “voted to protect the privacy of sex offenders instead of the safety of our kids.”

The reality

So did Angle say background checks were an invasion of privacy? Not quite. Let’s highlight everything she said, according to the legislative minutes of March 1, 1999:

“Ms. Angle expressed concern with the possible invasion of privacy and liability issues included in the bill. She stated voluntary programs always stepped up to become mandatory and she did not want to see the state get involved with things of a First Amendment nature. She also asked Mr. Nolan to expound on the chilling effect of the legislation.”

That’s a reference to bill sponsor Dennis Nolan, who explained there was no mandate and added: “The rights we are weighing here are the rights of innocent children who participate in organizations under the supervision of adults, and the need to make sure those children are protected.”

That seemed to sway Angle at the time — she voted for the bill in committee, according to the minutes. But a month and a half later, despite only minor changes, she voted against the bill on the floor.

The ad’s claim that Angle “voted to protect the privacy of sex offenders instead of the safety of our kids” is ridiculously inflammatory and it’s the kind of language that tends to undermine the legitimacy of the criticism.

But is it legitimate to call Angle “extreme” for being one of only three lawmakers to oppose this relatively noncontroversial bill?

I suppose. But I suppose others would say she is principled, being an absolutist on privacy issues even if it possibly could result in kids being less safe.

This is a classic case of cherry-picking votes to make a case. Unfortunately for Angle there are a lot of issues where she was in a tiny minority voting against. So it fits in the general Team Reid theme.

I think it just goes a bit too far. I give it a C.

Transcribed from “Face to Face With Jon Ralston.”

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