Finding the truth behind campaign ads: Matheson vs. Philpot

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SALT LAKE CITY -- New TV ads are heating up the race for Utah's second Congressional District. Democrat Jim Matheson is aggressively probing Republican challenger Morgan Philpot's past, in what Philpot claims is a negative attack.

The campaign is getting down to the wire, but Matheson's ads shifted noticeably to attack mode, even though he is 26 points ahead in recent polls. His latest ad takes on Philpot's record, just as Philpot has been challenging Matheson's record.

So what's the truth behind claims like this ad makes: "Did you know Philpot missed 233 votes while in the Utah Legislature?"

That claim is true, with an explanation. Because of scheduling and meetings at the Legislature, many House lawmakers miss votes all the time: Philpot claims he has one of the best voting percentages. A staff member of the Utah House says that missing 233 votes over four years is, "not bad."

But Matheson's ad goes on: "Morgan then quit the Legislature mid-term, moved to Michigan, but kept his Utah taxpayer-paid health care." At a news conference, Philpot insisted both claims are false: Public records show he actually quit a month prior to the end of his term. He says he did not retain his legislative health care benefits in Michigan.

Then the ad claims, "He even failed to pay his Utah taxes, until he was hit with a tax lien."

That's true. In 2006, there was a tax lien against Philpot and his wife: For $165.28 from the 2002 tax year. He says because he had moved, he was unaware of it, but paid within a month of being notified.

On the flip side, Matheson takes issue with an ad, Philpot runs that claims, "Over the past 10 years, this seat has sponsored and passed two bills."

In a letter, Matheson's attorney objects to these ads, saying, "Congressman Matheson has sponsored and passed many more than two bills." In truth, Matheson is sponsoring at least 21 bills right now, according to Congressional records. He has co-sponsored many more over the years.


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Richard Piatt


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