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October 24, 2014

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Line of attack: Is Danny Tarkanian skipping out on his bills to pay for his campaign?

Line of Attack is a weekly feature in which we parse a political attack, looking at the strategy behind it, how the campaign is delivering it and what facts support or refute it. We’ll assign it a rating on the fairness meter: Legit, Eye Roll, Guffaw, Laughable or Outrageous.

Attack: Republican congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian thinks “getting elected is more important than paying his bills,” by avoiding a $17 million judgment and sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into his own campaign.

Method of Delivery: Yes, the constant barrage of television attack ads can seem overwhelming, but there’s one perhaps even more invasive form of campaign advertising—the robo-call. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee decided the robo-call was the best strategy for delivering this attack.

Strategy: Republicans are after Tarkanian’s Democratic opponent Steven Horsford for a series of ethically-questionable decisions he has made, such as parking his car in a handicap space and flying to the Bahamas on the dime of an online poker company-- a trip for which he paid the company back after the fact. The GOP’s accusatory tagline on Horsford: He plays by his own rules.

So, to both turn the tables on Tarkanian and further muddy the waters, Democrats co-opted that tag line for their robo-call, accusing Tarkanian of thinking “he should get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of Nevadans.”

Fairness Meter: There’s nothing wrong with the facts in this robo-call. Yes, the court has ordered Tarkanian and his family to pay a $17 million judgment stemming from a complicated bank loan they took out as part of a failed real estate deal. Yes, Tarkanian spent $260,000 of his own money on his 2010 campaign.

What’s left out of the call is that Tarkanian and his family continue to fight the $17 million judgment in court, where he is arguing he was defrauded in the land deal. Tarkanian likely would have an extreme difficulty in paying that $17 million sum.

It’s perfectly legit for voters to evaluate Tarkanian’s judgment in entering the real estate deal in the first place. But it could be considered a bit premature to accuse Tarkanian of refusing to pay his bills while he pursues the case in court.

All in all, the line of attack earns an eye roll.

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  1. Mr. Tarkanian is unfit for political office. He has tried and failed before to get elected, running on his family name and little else. I don't want a congressman who goes into office tainted by a huge lawsuit, that will preoccupy his mind, in lieu of legislating for the citizens of Nevada. Since being coach's pet on the UNLV basketball team, he has accomplished nothing of note in anything he has tried to do since. "Representative" Danny Tarkanian? Really?

  2. The judgment against Mr. Tarkanian is being contested and will eventually be decided by a Court. Until then, it's just that: a matter being contested in court. To the best of my knowledge, Dan has never claimed to be the best real estate investor as one of his qualifications for the House.

    The tone of the campaign in Nevada is nauseating. Maybe his opponent should try something substantive like asking how does Mr. Tarkanian intend to vote on reigning in entitlement spending, or close a $1.6 trillion fiscal deficit created by President Obama and protected by Senator Reid's unwillingness to even bring a budget to the senate floor for debate and consideration.

    There are so many important things to talk about and hear from candidates, and regrettably, none of it seems to ever hit your pages.

  3. Re John Chachas. He will vote the issues exactly how his GOP House caucus TELLS HIM TOO. All the while, he'll have that lawsuit on the front burner of his mind, and Nevadan's will suffer.