Response to Tim Pawlenty’s Dishonest Ad

JEFF JOHNSON’S STATEMENT ON DISHONEST PAWLENTY ATTACK AD:

Today, Tim Pawlenty deliberately decided to take our primary race in a nasty (and dishonest) direction. After months of avoiding voters - and me - he came out of the gates with a huge TV buy and the single most dishonest political ad I’ve ever seen.

I’ll address the ad below, but its very existence means it’s a good day for the Johnson campaign as it signals that Tim’s obsessive internal polling (all $100,000 of it) shows the race is very close - something he clearly never imagined would be the case.

If he’s concerned about where the race stands, my suggestion would be that he get out and actually campaign instead of launching a dishonest attack ad, but that’s just me…As for the TV ad, he poses four ridiculous allegations:

Dishonest Claim #1: Jeff is a “tax and spend career politician.”

Truth: I have a 95% lifetime rating with the Minnesota Taxpayers’ League (one of the highest in legislative history). I’ve signed the Minnesota Taxpayers’ Pledge not to raise taxes - Tim says he will not. I’ve NEVER voted to raise taxes and will veto any budget as governor that is larger than the last. Tim raised so many “fees” as governor we couldn’t even keep track and he increased spending 7 of his 8 years as governor.

Oh, and he’s been running for office almost non-stop for 30 years, with his only break being the past five years when he made $10 million as a DC lobbyist for big banks and credit card companies.

Dishonest Claim #2: “As a Hennepin County Commissioner, Johnson didn’t just vote for a massive property tax increase, he proposed one.”

Truth: This is just a blatant lie. In 2009, the county board set its maximum property tax levy at an increase of 4.98%. I voted NO (but lost on a vote of 6-1). I did propose an amendment lowering the increase from 4.98% to 3%, knowing my colleagues were all going to vote for the maximum levy. That amendment failed (on a vote of 1-6). The link to my blog post on that vote is here.

Dishonest Claim #3: “Johnson supported Governor Dayton’s plan to expand the state sales tax to auto repairs, babysitting and more.”

Truth: I wrote an OpEd in 2013 attacking Dayton’s tax plan. I mentioned in that OpEd that the principle of expanding the sales tax base and lowering rates was a good one, but that Dayton took it too far and I did not support his plan. The OpEd can be read here.

Dishonest Claim #4:“Johnson supported spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money to support Obamacare.”

Truth: This one is the most confusing, but it appears Tim is referring to a vote I took in 2011 that allowed Hennepin County’s Northpoint clinic to apply for a federal building grant through the ACA for facility expansion. I’ve never supported Obamacare.

This IS the swamp. Tim believes he’s entitled to his old job and he’s employing a strategy of avoiding voters, only speaking in poll-tested talking points, relying almost solely on boatloads of money from the wealthiest donors and now launching deceitful attacks against other Republicans.

As I mentioned in a press conference today, if someone from my campaign brought me an ad this dishonest about Tim Pawlenty, I’d fire them.  Apparently, Tim and I have different moral compasses these days.  I think the swamp does that to you.


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  • Shannon Bruce
    When the debate is lost lies become the tool of the loser. Thank you for exposing the true character of your opponent.
  • Bob Meredith
    What happened to Tim Pawlenty the Christian? Money ruined him.