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Claims Department: 'Victory Mosque' ad

SPONSOR: Renee Ellmers for Congress

AUDIO: The ad opens with scary music and the deep voice of a narrator saying: "After the muslims conquered Jerusalem, and Cordoba, and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now they want to build a mosque by Ground Zero." 

After the narrator accuses Rep. Bob Etheridge of "not taking a stand" on the proposed building in New York, Ellmers appears on the screen.

"The terrorists haven't won, and we should tell them in plain English, 'No, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero,'" Ellmers says.

IMAGES: The screen shows a series of paintings of rampaging Muslims from the fall of Jerusalem in 638 A.D., Cordoba in Spain in 711 A.D. and then Constantinople in 1454, followed by photos of the Dome of the Rock, the "Cordoba Mosque" and the Hagia Sophia.


None of the buildings shown in Ellmers' ad were built to celebrate Muslim victories.

The Dome of the Rock, located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, was erected between 689 and 691 — 50 years after Muslims captured the city. It was built not as a mosque, but as a shrine for pilgrims to the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad rose to the heavens to receive a message from God.

The Temple Mount was also the site of the second Hebrew Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, which was destroyed by the Romans 500 years earlier. In 1099, when Christian Crusaders conquered Jerusalem, the Dome was converted to a church and then a palace.

In Cordoba, the building shown in the ad was built as a Christian church in 600 A.D. and later remodeled and converted into a mosque in 784 — 73 years after Muslim Moors conquered the city. In 1236, after a Christian king conquered the city, the building was converted back to a church. Today it is known as the Cathedral of Cordoba.

The Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was built between 532 and 537 A.D. by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian as a Orothdox Christian basilica. That's 917 years before Muslims conquered the city then known as Constantinople in 1454. The Hagia Sophia, which in Greek means "holy wisdom," was then converted to a mosque and added four minarets at the corners of the building.

The proposed Park51 project in Lower Manhattan is not "at Ground Zero," but on Park Place, a street two blocks north of the World Trade Center site. It is also not a mosque, but a planned community center to include a restaurant, fitness center, basketball court, swimming pool and child care center, along with what its developers are calling a "prayer room."


The ad contains both factual errors and historical inaccuracies.

UPDATE: Post updated to correctly identify the third mosque as the Hagia Sophia.

Claims Department: Gulf Coast swimming

In explaining why he was against offshore drilling in North Carolina, Cal Cunningham said he was worried that the state's coast could be ruined.

"If you've been swimming in the Gulf of Mexico where they do drill, you come out covered in oil," Cunningham said.

Your blogger is a Louisiana native with relatives on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and a frequent visitor to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Dome has never emerged from the Gulf of Mexico covered in oil.

Is the claim accurate? No

UPDATE: A Cunningham spokeswoman says that he was referring to the swimming near Galveston, Texas. Dome has never been swimming there, and cannot vouch for the quality of the water.

Claims Dept.: Obama on stimulus

President Barack Obama declared in his speech in Raleigh today that the results of federal stimulus money can already be seen in the Triangle. Here's the reality:

Obama: "The beltline is being resurfaced between Wake Forest Road and Wade Avenue..."

Reality: North Carolina received the first installment of $735 million in stimulus money for roads and bridges in February, including $4 million for I-440 (the Beltline) between Wake Forest Road and Wade Avenue.

Obama: "The Raleigh Durham Airport is renovating its runways..."

Reality: The airport received a total of $5.9 million in stimulus money to install new lights on the runways and taxiways.

Obama: "The city of Raleigh's transit system is building a new operations and maintenance facility..."

Reality: Raleigh received $7.6 million in stimulus money to purchase 23 acres off Poole Road for the operations and maintenance center and a park-and-ride lot.

Obama: "Over 500 people are going to work as part of a summer youth work initiative..."

Reality: The workforce development board for Wake and Johnston counties announced in April that it was awarded $3.2 million in stimulus money to find jobs for dislocated workers, underemployed adults and youths. Wake County officials at the time estimated the money would enable them to find jobs for 600 youths, 130 dislocated workers and 80 other adults.

Obama: "Water treatment plants are being renovated throughout the Triangle..."

Reality: Raleigh was awarded $771,000 for a water reuse irrigation system at the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Holly Springs received $81,600 for a solar powered mixing system to aid their water treatment. Earlier this month, Cary was awarded $3 million to help pay for new pumps and water treatment system improvements.

Claims Dept: Dalton's 'One candidate' ad

Democrat Walter Dalton of Rutherfordton is running this ad in his race for lieutenant governor against Charlotte Republican Robert Pittenger. The Pittenger campaign says the reference to Charlotte is not playing in versions of the ad running in that city.

What the ad says: Announcer: "Only one candidate has the experience to be Lieutenant Governor." Voices: "Walter Dalton. Walter Dalton. Walter Dalton."

Announcer: "Walter Dalton created thousands of new jobs. Walter Dalton capped the gas tax. Walter Dalton strengthened community colleges.

"Walter has raised the salaries of community college professors, supported workplace development programs, supported the historic community college-university bond that has helped strengthen the community college system. And the list goes on.

"And millionaire Robert Pittenger? He opposed raising the minimum wage. He opposed capping the gas tax. And Pittinger opposed incentives that created new jobs.

"Robert Pittinger. A Charlotte millionaire we just can't afford."

Dalton: "I'm Walter Dalton candidate for Lieutenant Governor and I sponsored this ad."

The ad features pictures of a handful of people repeating Dalton's name and then cuts to photos of Pittenger in front of gas pumps and an unemployment office. It also shows Pittenger in front of a lavish home. It's not his.

The background: Dalton voted for jobs and to cap the gas tax, but didn't pass those measures single-handedly. While he co-chairs the Senate budget committee, the Democratic majority passed those measures.

In 2006, Pittenger did join other Republicans in voting against a bill raising the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 an hour in North Carolina, the first hike in nine years. Republicans argued that the increase would hurt employers.

The 2006 and 2007 provisions to cap the gas tax were included in budget bills passed largely along party lines. Pittenger and other Republicans objected to the overall bill on principle, which raised state spending by 10 percent. Pittenger and other Republicans supported a separate GOP bill to cap the gas tax. It died in committee.

Pittenger, who has consistently favored lower taxes, has generally opposed using tax dollars for economic incentives.

As for the "millionaire" label, Pittenger and his wife Suzanne have loaned or contributed $2.6 million to his campaign, according to a recent report filed with the state board of elections.

Is the ad accurate? Yes, though Dalton may be overstating his role in Senate accomplishments. And the votes on the gas tax cap were largely partisan votes Republicans that Pittenger opposed for other reasons.

— Jim Morrill

Claims Dept: Hagan's 'Crackdown' ad

In a new ad, Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan criticizes negative ads from Sen. Elizabeth Dole and notes her record on illegal immigration.

What the ad says: The ad shows images of Dole's ads and Hagan talking with law enforcement officers and voters. Narrator: "Now she's crossed the line. Newspapers are condemning Elizabeth Dole's shameful attacks. A lie born of Dole's desperation. Worse than dishonest. And now new lies about Kay Hagan's immigration record. The facts: Hagan voted to ban driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. Kay's been endorsed by 53 sheriffs, who know she's cracked down on a crisis Washington created. It's time for the truth. And a change." Hagan: "I'm Kay Hagan and I approve this message."

The background: The ad makes several claims about the Senate race.

EDITORIALS: Three major North Carolina newspapers wrote editorials chastizing Dole over a recent ad about Hagan's ties to a member of the Godless Americans PAC.

The Wilmington Star-News wrote that it was "shameful even by today's threshold for slime" and "smacks of desperation." The Charlotte Observer wrote that it was "a lie born of Dole's desperation in a race in which she has trailed for weeks."

And the Greensboro News-Record said it was "worse than dishonest" in depicting Hagan as "godless."

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION: Starting in 2000, state Republicans pushed legislation to make it impossible for illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses.

The state Senate's Democratic leadership sent all of the bills to die in committee, but a provision in the 2001 budget made it slightly more difficult for illegal immigrants to get a license.

Other Republican bills died in committee over the next several years. In 2006, the House amended a Senate bill to make it impossible for illegal immigrants to get licenses.

Hagan voted for both bills, but she played only a supporting role in the process and did not intervene when earlier Republican measures were pushed aside.

She also cosponsored a 2008 bill requiring employers verify information on new employees and helped pass the 2007 budget, which included $750,000 to help promote a deportation program.

SHERIFFS: In late August, 53 of North Carolina's 100 sheriffs endorsed Hagan, according to the Associated Press. About two-thirds of the sheriffs are Democrats, and none of the Republican sheriffs endorsed her.

Is it accurate? It's overstated. It's true that Hagan voted to ban driver's licenses and supported other measures, but she hardly led a crackdown on illegal immigration. The claims about newspaper editorials and sheriff's endorsements are accurate.

— Ryan Teague Beckwith

Claims dept: McCrory's 'Henry' radio ad

Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory's new radio ad criticizes Democrat Beverly Perdue for her negative ads. before hitting her in his own.

What the ad says:

Henry: Hey ... aren't you Pat McCrory?

Pat: Yeah.

Henry: I'm Henry.

Pat: Hi Henry.

Henry: Pat ... been hearing some negative stuff about you from Bev Perdue...

Pat: Yeah, I heard three of her negative ads about me just today and heck I wouldn't even vote for me after hearing them

Henry: Then why don’t you go after her?

Pat: Bev, She believes she can get elected by tearing me down. I believe in telling you what I'm going to do as a leader ... and not untruthfully attacking my opponent?

Henry: So what about that Yankee garbage?

Pat: It's pure Garbage, Henry. It's so ridiculous. No one including me wants to dump garbage in our beautiful state.

Henry: What about our roads?

Pat: Well, our roads are a mess. Bev Perdue has proposed taking road money for things like a teapot museum. This is the culture of corruption that I want to change. I'll fix our roads and build a good system interconnecting the whole state.

Henry: I heard Speaker Joe Maveretic say you couldn't believe a word Bev Perdue says ... guess he's right...

Pat: Yeah and he was a respected Democrat leader. I'd appreciate your vote for positive change.

Henry: You got it, Pat.

Pat: I'm Pat McCrory, candidate for governor and I approved and paid for this ad.

The background: McCrory proudly proclaims that he hasn't run negative ads and essentially repeats that in this ad ... moments before he attacks Perdue.

McCrory and the N.C. League of Municipalities opposed legislation restricting landfills that could import trash from other states, but their opposition was based on a tax it imposed on cities and towns not because anyone wanted to ship in garbage.

As lieutenant governor, Perdue does not help write the state budget, including in 2005, when the budget included a $400,000 appropriation for a then-proposed teapot museum in Sparta. That money was arranged by then-House Speaker Jim Black, who also received campaign contributions from museum supporters.

Former House Speaker Joe Mavretic, a Democrat, has repeatedly questioned Perdue's trustworthiness. Perdue pledged to join a bipartisan coup in 1989 to oust then-House Speaker Liston Ramsey with Mavretic. The morning of the coup, Perdue backed out. Mavretic still won the vote.

Is the ad accurate: Yes and no. There is no evidence Perdue played any role in the teapot museum money. She doesn't even vote on the budget unless there's a tie, which there wasn't. The claims about Mavretic's views and McCrory's defense of his thoughts on roads and landfills is accurate, however.

— Mark Johnson

Claims Dept: DSCC's 'Travel' ad on Dole

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's latest ad criticizes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole for her her work promoting Senate candidates in 2006.

What the ad says: Dole is shown flying in a cartoon biplane with President Bush over a map of the country. Narrator: "Where's Elizabeth Dole been? Campaigning for George Bush's policies. In 2006, she traveled to Pennsylvania, Washington, New Jersey, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Tennessee, Michigan, Arizona, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia. Twelve states for Bush, while records show Dole spent only 13 days in North Carolina. The year before: Only 20 days. No wonder she's ranked 93rd in effectiveness. Elizabeth Dole. She'll travel the country for George Bush ... but she's not getting the job done for us. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising."

The background: In 2006, Dole served as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a Washington-based group that helps Republican Senate candidates get elected.

On behalf of the group, Dole visited the 12 states mentioned in the ad, according to contemporary newspaper accounts and an official e-mail from Dole.

There are no formal ties between the group and Bush, although the president would have benefited from Republican control of the Senate.

The Winston-Salem Journal recently analyzed tax-paid travel records, news releases and media coverage to determine how many days Dole spent 13 days in North Carolina in 2006 and 20 days in 2005.

Dole said the newspaper didn't count all the time's she's been to the state at her own expense, although she could not provide documentation of those visits.

The Congressional data service Knowlegis ranked Dole 93rd in the Senate in 2007 in its annual study of effectiveness.

Is the ad accurate? Mostly. The descriptions of Dole's effectiveness, the states she visited in 2006 and the days she spent in North Carolina are accurate. But it is misleading to say that Dole traveled the country for President Bush.

Claims Dept: Perdue's No Foolin' ad

Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue's latest radio ad attacks Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory on immigration, traveling trash and, as part of her continuing effort to appeal to voters in eastern and rural North Carolina, road funding.

What the ad says:

Bill: Hey Henry.

Henry: Hey Bill.

Bill: What are you doing?

Henry: Reading my mail. Got another brochure from that mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory.

Bill: I got that too. I’m surprised he even thinks us folks out in the country can read...

Henry: ... or have indoor plumbing

Bill: McCrory sure has been insulting to us.

Henry: I know. I read in the paper that he said Charlotte's getting ripped off, and he’d take money away from rural highways...

Bill: ...Oh, you’re kidding.

Henry: Why Bill, he even questioned whether we should pave roads in small towns and rural areas.

Bill: And you know, McCrory's the guy who wants to let New Jersey and New York ship their garbage down here to North Carolina.

Henry: Pee yew. Of course now he's trying to change the subject and look tough on immigration.

Bill: Yeah, but I saw where McCrory admitted he paid illegal immigrants to work on city projects in Charlotte.

Henry: I guess McCrory's found two country boys who can’t get fooled.

Bill: Henry, McCrory's going to find out on election day who the fool is.

Perdue: This is Bev Perdue, candidate for Governor and I sponsored this ad. Paid for by Bev Perdue Committee.

The background: McCrory has repeatedly criticized the funding formula that determines how state road dollars will be spent. He has complained that the formula does not adequately account for population in deciding which areas should get more money. McCrory has said that metropolitan areas should get more money, which would mean rural areas would get less.

The claim that McCrory questioned whether rural roads should be paved is a stretch. In 2000, at a meeting of North Carolina mayors, McCrory said that the state's policy of building paved roads to every community encourages sprawl, according to an Associated Press account.

McCrory's statement about Charlotte getting "ripped off" also refers to criticism of state funding formulas.

The garbage talk refers to the Solid Waste Management Act of 2007. Favored by environmentalists, the bill was designed to restrict new landfills in the state. It was spurred by concerns that private regional landfills would turn N.C. into one of the country's top five importers of trash. One landfill, proposed for rural northeastern North Carolina, would have buried up to 3 million tons of garbage a year and create a trash mountain 270-feet high.

McCrory cited the measure as an example of the kind of bill he would veto as governor. But he calls the ad a distortion.

That's because the bill also included new taxes on municipalities. An early version would have charged minicipalities $2.50 per ton to dump trash and debris. The N.C. League of Municipalities also opposed the bill, at least at first. It dropped its opposition after winning concessions such as getting a larger share of the proceeds to local governments and lowering the so-called tip tax to $2.

McCrory said in interviews in 2005 that he believed, but did not know, that there were illegal immigrants working for sub-contractors on city-funded construction projects, as there likely were at employers throughout the city. He said the city did not have the staff or resources to try and enforce laws that the federal government is supposed to enforce.

Is the ad accurate: No. McCrory questioned a policy of paving roads to all developments, and both Democrats and Republicans have questioned the state's road funding formula. He opposed the trash bill over the tax. It's misleading to say he wanted to import trash. On illegal immigrants, he made clear he had no firsthand knowledge that they were working on the construction sites, so at best he was admitting to speculating. He also raised the issue in the context of the need for federal enforcement.

— Mark Johnson

Claims Dept: Pittenger on pigging out

Former N.C. Sen. Robert Pittenger, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is running a TV ad against his Democratic challenger, state Sen. Walter Dalton.

What the ad says: Announcer: "Raleigh's pigging out. Take Senator Walton Dalton. Dalton gave Goodyear tax breaks...after they hired his brother-in-law. Dalton made state insurance pay for erectile dysfunction drugs...while Dalton's daughter was the drug company's lobbyist. Dalton gave Dell special tax breaks...while he owned Dell stock. Wasteful Walter Dalton. He made government work...For Walter Dalton."

"I'm Robert Pittenger, running for Lieutenant Governor, and I sponsored this message."

The ad features cartoon images of pigs prancing around with bags of money.

The background:

- In September 2007, the legislature passed an economic incentives bill that would give Goodyear more than $24 million over 10 years. On a strictly party-line vote, Dalton voted in favor; Pittenger against.

Goodyear hired Dalton's brother-in-law - former Republican legislator and gubernatorial candidate Chuck Neely - on Aug. 31, a day after Gov. Mike Easley vetoed an early version of the incentives bill. Dalton publicly supported that version. But when it passed the Senate overwhelmingly, he was absent.

- Under one version of the 2004 budget, drugs such as Cialis -- after a four-year absence - reappeared on a list of those eligible for coverage under the state health plan. Dalton, a chief budget writer, said at the time that the suggestion came out of a subcommittee. The measure passed the Senate but never became law.

Dalton's daughter, Elizabeth Dalton, was a lobbyist for Eli Lilly, which manufactured Cialis. Aides say Dalton also has voted against his daughter's clients, such as the N.C. Retail Merchants. And they say he voted for a similar drug provision in an earlier budget, when his daughter was still in college.

- In 2004, Dalton was among a majority of lawmakers who voted for $242 million worth of incentives to computer-maker Dell. Dalton had bought $10,000 worth of Dell shares in 1999. While the stock value rose after the incentives deal, he later sold it at a loss.

Dalton spokeswoman Kimberly Reynolds said the stocks were in a managed account and "daily decisions are made by his financial advisor without input from Sen. Dalton." She said Dalton has long supported measures he believes will create jobs.

Is the ad accurate? The votes are accurate. But the implication that Dalton voted because of family ties or personal benefit is subjective.

- Jim Morrill, The Charlotte Observer

Claims Dept: Dole's 'Promises' ad

A new ad from the campaign of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole criticizes Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan for attending a fundraiser hosted by members of an atheist group.

What the ad says: The ad shows images of Dole and Hagan. Dole: "I'm Elizabeth Dole and I approve this message." Announcer: "A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan's honor." A clip of Godless Americans PAC executive director Ellen Johnson on MSNBC: "There is no God to rely on." Another Johnson clip: "There was no Jesus." A clip of Bill O'Reilly on Fox News: "But taking ‘under God’ out of the Pledge of Allegiance — you're down with that." Godless Americans PAC member David Silverman: "We're down with that." O'Reilly: "'In God We Trust' — are you going to whip that off the money?" Silverman: "Yeah, we would." Announcer: "Godless Americans and Kay Hagan. She hid from cameras. Took godless money. What did Hagan promise in return?" The ad then shows an image of Hagan as an unidentified voice says "There is no God!"

The background: On Sept. 15, Hagan attended a fundraiser in Boston hosted by author Wendy Kaminer and her husband, Woody Kaplan.

Both are leaders of the Secular Coalition of America, which advocates for atheists and humanists in public policy. Kaplan also sits on the advisory board of the Godless Americans political action committee, which advocates for non-believers.

It is not clear that Kaminer is a leader of the PAC.

Kaplan was listed as one of ten chairs of the Hagan fundraiser, along with Sen. John Kerry, former Austrian ambassador Swanee Hunt and several other Boston-area businesspeople. Another 25 people were listed as hosts.

The fundraiser was advertised on the Democratic Web site ActBlue in August. After Dole criticized Hagan over the fundraiser in late August, Kaminer and Kaplan’s names were removed from the invitation on ActBlue.

The Godless Americans PAC Web site says that it supports candidates who are atheists and supports the separation of religion and government, including a "Godless pledge."

The news clips are of other members of the Godless Americans PAC on MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" in 2004 and 2005 and Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" in 2004. The unidentified woman’s voice at the end is Johnson's from a Washington rally in 2002.

Is the ad accurate? It is true that Hagan attended the fundraiser in question, but the ad is misleading in several ways. The fundraiser was not a secret. The people shown in the news clips were not involved with the fundraiser. And some viewers might be led to believe that the unidentified female voice at the end of the ad is Hagan's.

— Barbara Barrett and Ryan Teague Beckwith

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