Fact Check: Walczyk Ad Attacking JennePosted: Updated:
A TV ad from state Assembly candidate Mark Walczyk goes beyond what's been reported about Walczyk's opponent, Assemblywoman Addie Jenne. We looked into the ad and what appears to be claimed.
Part of the ad deals with the now familiar charge that Jenne tried to steer money to a building project in the village of Antwerp.
Here's the part of the ad we're talking about: "Pay raises and payoffs for herself and friends."
The ad talks about payoffs for Jenne's friends and at the bottom, the words appear "$125,000 steered to a close friend."
But that's not what we reported back in September. In our story, we reported Jenne tried to steer $125,000 to a project for a building in Antwerp owned by Nathan McElhone. But the deal never happened. The project never got any money.
Jenne has insisted she only got involved because village officials wanted her to, and that she didn't know McElhone at the time. This is all back in 2014. We never found any evidence of anyone receiving a payoff in this project.
Walczyk says he stands by the ad because he believes Jenne would have given the money to McElhone if a local official hadn't intervened.
In a statement Jenne said, "I have no control over all the negative, false attacks my opponent makes."
She added that she always puts the north country first.
All this is news because McElhone allegedly stole $1,500 worth of copper piping in September, and was using a pick up truck registered to Jenne, who has acknowledged they had a romantic relationship, but now says they are simply close friends.
We note that in other ads attacking Jenne, including one from the state Republican Committee, they're careful to use the words "tried to steer" and it says nothing about payoffs.
So given what we know about the ad, how come TV stations, including this one, continue to run it? Well, under the law, a TV station can't censor a candidate's ad, regardless of what claims the ad makes.
If political action committee money pays for the ad, the station is responsible to fact check it.