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Ad faulting Djou vote shaves data numbers

A Democratic-backed commercial's claim does not add up on closer examination

By B.J. Reyes

LAST UPDATED: 8:16 a.m. HST, Sep 28, 2010

A week into the general election season, ads are flying in the race for the 1st Congressional District.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was on the air even ahead of the Hawaii primary election with an ad critical of U.S. Rep. Charles Djou, saying he votes with the Republican Party 90 percent of the time.

Djou, who is seeking re-election after winning a special election in May to fill the seat vacated by Neil Abercrombie, countered with one criticizing his opponent, state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, and her "allies" for distorting his record. The television ad was his third released this month.

The DCCC cites the Washington Post Congressional Votes Database for its claim that Djou voted with his party in Congress 90 percent of the time. But a closer look reveals more.

The database lists 98 votes and two abstentions. On 82 of the votes, Djou took the party line. That seems to be the basis for the Post's figure, 89.4 percent, although the math works out to 84 percent.

But on 46 bills the two parties were in agreement.

Only on 36 bills (37 percent) did Djou side with the GOP against the Democrats.

On 14 bills, Djou sided with the Democrats against the Republicans -- and twice he went against the wishes of both parties.

"I am actually the most independent, bipartisan member of Hawaii's congressional delegation," Djou said.

Djou's latest ad, which began airing Thursday, begins with his wife, Stacey, criticizing "Colleen Hanabusa and her supporters" for trying to distort her husband's record, and it ends with Djou stating he "won't let the establishment make me something I'm not."

His claims that he co-sponsored legislation for jobs, a balanced budget and education reform are legitimate. Those proposals include the Small Business Financing and Investment Act; a joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment; and the Teacher Incentive Fund Act.

Andy Stone, western regional press secretary for the DCCC, said the group stands by its ads, saying Djou's voting record "represents an economic agenda out of step with the needs and interests of the people of Hawaii."

How Your Lawmakers Voted:


Stone said Djou was trying to change the subject by talking about measures he would support rather than the voting record he already has compiled.

Richard Rapoza, a spokesman for Hanabusa's campaign, said, "We haven't distorted Charles Djou's record. It speaks for itself."

In two specific votes the DCCC mentioned, Djou voted with the GOP caucus, which opposed both.

The first, the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act, provides about $26 billion in federal aid to states, including $40 million for teacher jobs in Hawaii. Republicans criticized it as reckless spending.

The second, a provision to end tax breaks for companies that outsource U.S. jobs, was included in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act. The NRCC said Djou's opposition to the bill was based on its effect on the federal budget, citing a Congressional Budget Office report indicating it amounts to a net tax increase of $40 billion.

"Campaign Ad Watch" examines claims made in local candidates' advertisements.


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