Las Vegas Sun

April 25, 2019

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Falsely besmirching Rosen does nothing but distract from the issues

Smearing a political opponent is bad enough.

But doing so by repeating an accusation that has already been debunked? That’s way out of bounds, even by today’s low standards in political advertising.

Yet that’s where a group supporting Sen. Dean Heller’s re-election campaign has gone with claims that Rep. Jacky Rosen embellished her résumé.

The Heller camp initially made that accusation in early July, saying Rosen lied about receiving a degree in computer technology and operating her own tech consulting business.

But media vetting quickly showed that Heller’s claims were false. Regarding her educational background, it’s been confirmed that Rosen earned an associate’s degree in computing and information technology in 1985 from Clark County Community College, which is now the College of Southern Nevada.

As for her business, one of Rosen’s colleagues at Southwest Gas, where she worked as a software programmer, has confirmed that Rosen provided consulting services for the utility after leaving the staff in the 1990s. Beyond that, records show Rosen opened an individual retirement account for self-employed business operators in 1998.

But despite the abundance of fact-checking that has cleared Rosen, the National Republican Senatorial Committee issued a TV ad last week that once again accused Rosen of being untruthful about her business.

The ad, which is airing in the Reno market, notes that there’s no record of Rosen having a business license and cites a local newspaper columnist’s opinion that Rosen didn’t actually build a business because her enterprise had no employees, no building and no assets to sell if it closed. The columnist’s logic was that contract work is not the same as building a company, and therefore Rosen was being disingenuous in saying she created a business.

As for the business license, that issue has been vetted in Rosen’s favor. The Nevada Department of Taxation has reported that Rosen wouldn’t have needed a state business license because of the type of work she was doing, and the City of Henderson could not provide proof of a license because it destroys records a year after businesses close.

Regarding her claim of building a business, Heller’s supporters are quibbling over semantics. What, independent contractors can’t say they grew a business? That’s ridiculous.

So for the NRSC to make this claim in its ad — “No employees. No license. No truth in Jacky Rosen” — is a disservice to voters. It’s an affront to them, as well, because the NRSC obviously thinks Nevadans aren’t paying attention to the facts. Otherwise, there’s no way the organization would trot out this garbage a second time.

And that’s not to mention the fact that a party that has embraced a pathological liar of a president is now claiming there’s “no truth” in a Democratic candidate. How hypocritical can you get?

The approach is a clear sign of desperation among the Heller camp and its supporters. They can’t undermine Rosen on issues, so instead they’re trying to distract voters by either lying or stretching the truth to the breaking point about her background.

In reality, far away from the spin zone that is competitive politics, Rosen’s qualifications and bold ideas make her an exceptionally strong candidate. She worked in technical services for some of the city’s bigger companies, including Citibank and Summa Corp., in addition to Southwest Gas, and also served as president of Congregation Ner Tamid.

In 2016, she defeated Republican Danny Tarkanian to win Nevada’s 3rd congressional district seat.

Besmirching her character with baseless accusations and misrepresentations of the truth didn’t work the first time. Trying it twice shows how little the Republicans have to offer — either in integrity or legitimate criticisms of Rosen.