Metro-East News

As flurry of election ads hits voters with claims, what are the real facts?

Get ready for the 2018 Election

Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.
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Voters in Belleville and Southern Illinois have several important decisions to make on Nov. 6.

As election season comes to a close Tuesday, television ads will be playing over and over as voters prepare to cast their ballots. But how factual are the claims being made in these ads?

Races that are seen as potentially close are the districts that are seeing the most advertisements.

In one of the latest ads of the 12th Congressional District race, GOP-aligned super PAC Congressional Leadership Fund is running an ad that backs U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, and attacks St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly. The ad says Kelly “supported a massive sales tax hike that St. Clair County rejected.”

The context: Kelly was one of the public proponents of increasing the sales tax in 2017 by one percentage point for public safety needs in the county and one percentage point for school infrastructure in the county. Voters in St. Clair County in April 2017 rejected both referendums. Each sales tax increase would have brought in $22 million.

The ad goes on to say Kelly opposed the middle class tax cut, which was part of the tax reform package. Kelly did speak on Nov. 29, 2017 against the tax cut package, the same day President Donald Trump was in the St. Louis area touting tax reform.

“Raising taxes on middle-class families right here in Southern Illinois and burdening our children with more debt to give even more to the elite, powerful few is not tax reform — it’s a con job,” Kelly said on Nov. 29. “We need meaningful relief for hard-working families, not to rip away deductions that help seniors afford medical bills and allow school teachers to write off classroom supplies. This hustle is not what people voted for and it shows how (Speaker) Paul Ryan and his crew still don’t get it.”

The Illinois 12th Congressional District race is expected to be a toss-up election on Nov. 6. The race features U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, Democratic nominee Brendan Kelly, of Swansea, and Green Party nominee Randy Auxier, of Murphsyboro.

112th State House District

One race that is seeing lots of advertising is the state house race in the 112th district, which is a rematch between state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, and former state Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon. Stuart defeated Kay in 2016, 51.6 percent to 48.4 percent. It was a seat that flipped Democratic, in a year Republicans made gains in the statehouse.

In the Kay attack ad, it makes a claim that Stuart voted for Madigan’s income tax hike, referring to Speaker Mike Madigan.

However Stuart voted against the income tax hike that was put in place as part of an override of a Gov. Bruce Rauner veto to end the two-year budget impasse. Stuart however voted in a favor of a resolution supporting a progressive income tax in the state.

Former Republican state Rep. Dwight Kay, left, is in a rematch against state Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville.

56th State Senate District

The 56th State Senate District race also has been gaining lots of attention, as Democrat Rachelle Aud Crowe and GOP-backed Hal Patton seek to succeed state Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton, who is not running for re-election.

In a Crowe ad, the Democratic assistant state’s attorney calls Hal Patton “High-Tax Hal,” citing how he created a new sales tax in Edwardsville.

In 2014, the city of Edwardsville increased the sales tax in town from 6.85 percent to 7.1 percent in order to build a new police and fire station. The sales tax added 25 cents to each $100 purchase.

Sales taxes are generally promoted because they bring in money from people who live outside a municipality.

The Patton campaign also said the Edwardsville mayor did not advocate for higher income taxes, but rather advocated against cuts to the local distributive fund in the state. The fund distributes state money to municipalities.

Patton Aud Crowe
Edwardsville Mayor Hal Patton, a member of Downstate United, and Madison County Assistant State’s Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe, a Democrat, are both seeking the Illinois Senate 56th District seat now held by Bill Haine. Haine is retiring. Carol Johnson Provided

Patton in an ad says that Crowe, the Democrat state senate race, hired Mike Madigan’s attorney to get him kicked off of the ballot after the GOP-backed candidate signed the re-election petition of Democratic legislator Katie Stuart, which is not allowed.

The objection to Patton’s candidacy was filed by Charles Yancey of Bethalto. He was represented by Mike Kasper who is general counsel for the Democratic Party in Illinois. However, financial disclosure reports for Crowe’s campaign committee do not list payments to Kasper.

The 111th State House District

In a Mike Babcock ad, the Republican Wood River Township supervisor criticizes state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, for calling for a pay raise for legislators.

“Monica Bristow actually said, ‘we need a tax increase to give politicians a raise,’” Babcock said in the ad.

The comment made by Bristow was when she was presenting her first bill, legislation prohibiting a cost of living increase for lawmakers in 2017.

The annual legislation is usually presented in the Democratically-controlled House by a Democratic member who may be facing a tough election. The sponsor then is able to brag about the legislation during campaign season.

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Republican Mike Babcock is challenging state Rep. Monica Bristow, D-Godfrey, in the 111th State House District.

However, during discussion of the bill, Bristow made a comment that might have been in jest, but nonetheless gave Republican counterparts ammunition.

“Hopefully if this body (the Illinois House) and the Senate gets its act together, we will be able to have our revenue exceeding expenditures and we’ll all get raises,” Bristow said.

“I don’t know that you were supposed to go on record and say every member of the General Assembly should get a raise,” Republican lawmaker David Breen responded on the House floor during debate.

The 116th State House District

An ad for Republican David Friess who is trying to unseat state Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, says Costello backed gun control and higher income taxes but doesn’t include citations usually included in these segments.

Costello voted to ban bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like an automatic weapon. A bump stock device was used in the Las Vegas mass shooting. Costello does have an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. Friess also has the highest rating from the NRA for non-incumbents.

Costello also voted against the income tax increase in 2017, as well as backed resolutions against progressive income taxes.

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State Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton, (Left), and Republican David Friess BND file photos

Friess argues that Costello voted for unbalanced budget which would require a tax increase. Costello has said he has voted for budgets in silos, where funding for different services each have their own appropriations bills.

In one ad Costello has been running, he said Friess “pledged to cut funding for corrections, forcing hundreds of layoffs, overcrowding jails and leaving guards at risk,” citing an August interview with WJPF news radio.

The statement plays well in the Randolph County portion of the district, which includes the Menard Corrections Center.

During the interview however, Friess never specified the Department of Corrections, when asked about how to fix Illinois.

“We have got to get our fiscal house in order,” Friess said in the interview with WJPF. “We have got to stop spending money we do not have. To accomplish that, everybody has got to be part of the sacrifice. Every agency, every program, it doesn’t matter. Every expenditure has got to be on the table on that issue.”

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451; @JoeBReporter