Las Vegas Sun

May 12, 2021

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reality check:

Union’s attack ad in Dina Titus-Joe Heck race stoops to lies, fearmongering

Sun Coverage

Let’s look at an ad by a labor union trying to help Rep. Dina Titus win re-election in the 3rd Congressional District. The target: her Republican opponent, Dr. Joe Heck.

The commercial

Over a photo of Heck speaking into a microphone is this text: “Warning, Joe Heck dangerous to women.”

The voice: “Even though nearly 4,000 women die every year from cervical cancer, Heck voted against requiring insurance companies to cover the vaccine, saying they wouldn’t need it if they didn’t engage in risky behavior.”

More text: “Warning, Joe Heck voted against cancer vaccine (2007 SB409: 4/13/2007, 4/19/2007)” and a reference to a 2008 Sun article.

The video now shows images of young women.

The voice: “What’s more, if up to Heck, women’s retirement would be privatized, gambled away on Wall Street.”

The video shows an elderly woman with text: “Warning Joe Heck: Gamble Social Security on Wall Street (Nevada News & Views 5/4/2010).”

The voice: “Dr. Heck may have taken an oath to protect us but his actions are dangerous to women and to all of us. AFSCME is responsible for the content of this advertising.”

Text, over the image of Heck speaking, reads: “Warning Joe Heck Dangerous.”

The message

This ad is paid for by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. It has some of the most over-the-top rhetoric and flat-out false accusations of any ad so far this year.

Dangerous to women? Come on.

We hear candidates called liars and extremists, but this is blatant fearmongering.

The reality

The first issue was used against Heck by the state Democratic Party in his failed bid for state Senate re-election two years ago. It is not just misleading; it is false.

Heck never voted against a vaccine for cervical cancer. He voted against forcing insurance companies to cover a vaccine for HPV, a virus that can be a precursor to cervical cancer. The charge was widely criticized last cycle, including by me.

As for his “risky behavior” comments, Heck did say during a committee hearing that it is a “philosophical issue” with the vaccine because some of the “risk factors are behavioral.”

Many inferred from those comments that he believed the HPV vaccine would give women a green light to be promiscuous. And I have no doubt many women — and men, too — would find that reasoning Neanderthal and offensive.

The claim about Heck supporting Social Security privatization also is false — at least so far as the public record goes.

Even in the newsletter the ad cites, Heck says people should be allowed to voluntarily withdraw money and invest it:

“Since this would be voluntary, any individual who would exercise this option must understand that they are assuming the risk associated with private investment.”

Privatization? I don’t think so.

The ad concludes with the ludicrous “dangerous” rhetoric and a snide shot at Heck’s oath as a doctor.

But what’s really dangerous is that too many people will believe this manufactured nonsense.

I give this ad an F.

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