PolitiFact released an article Wednesday deeming Florida Democratic Party chair Karen Thurman’s statement alleging that Florida Attorney General (and Republican candidate for governor) Bill McCollum spent $2.2 million “to produce and air campaign-style TV ads where you were featured in almost every frame” as “mostly true.”
On May 18, Thurman wrote a letter to McCollum — posted on the website of the Florida Democratic Party — demanding him to pay back taxpayers for the testimony of George Rekers on gay adoption, a then little-known antigay activist who the Miami New Times recently reported hired a young man to accompany him to Europe from the gay website Rentboy.com. But also in the letter contained this claim:
Sadly for Florida, this fiscal recklessness is only the latest disturbing example in a long line of instances where your office wasted state funds to further your political ambitions or partisan ideology. Last year, you spent more than $2.2 million dollars to produce and air campaign style TV ads where you were featured in almost every frame.
Here’s the ad:
PolitiFact examined the claim:
Public records show that the Office of the Attorney General paid Chris Mottola Consulting $2,267,189 for the cybersafety project in fiscal year 2009. The total spent, however, turned out to be $2,142,654, according to Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office. The difference was returned to the State of Florida because it wasn’t used, Copes said. “It was refunded,” she said. Copes broke the amount down further: Mottola received the full amount but he collected only $202,509 because he spent the rest on supplies and air time. The rest was spent as follows:
* Production costs: $68,913, cameramen, site locations, etc.
* FedEx: $1,440, shipping the public safety announcements to stations
* TV air time: $1,869,792
We should note that McCollum took heat for awarding the project to Mottola, his former political consultant, in a no-bid contract. The program was funded through settlements obtained by the AG’s office, Copes said. No general revenue dollars were used.
So the Florida Democratic Party said that McCollum spent “more than $2.2 million dollars to produce and air campaign-style TV ads” and McCollum was “featured in almost every frame.” McCollum’s office spent just under $2.2 million for the ad, but the ubiquity of the AG’s mug checked out and so we rule this statement Mostly True.
The firm he hired, Chris Mottola Consulting, is a well-known New Jersey Republican media firm. It has produced ads for George W. Bush, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Gov. George Pataki (N.Y.), Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) and Lincoln Chaffee (R-R.I.).
At the time, Florida CFO Alex Sink questioned the use of the firm in a public campaign. “I was disappointed to learn that you intend to continue your no-bid contract to Chris Mottola Consulting, instead of going through a competitive bidding process,” she wrote when the ads were released. She is now running for governor against McCollum.
In the last poll conducted on the governor’s race, Attorney General McCollum led Sink 43-35 percent.
[Pic via commons.wikimedia.org]