“Inaccurate” and “untruthful” claims were included in campaign advertising supporting Democratic Monroe County Legislator Ted O’Brien in his bid for the state Senate, a fair elections committee found Thursday. Another decision the same day found that an ad supporting O’Brien’s Republican opponent, Assemblyman Sean Hanna, also contained an untruthful claim.
The Fair Election Practices Committee in Rochester evaluated Hanna’s claim that a mailer asking voters to support O’Brien—the ad “did not identify the source of who was responsible for the mailer,” according to the committee—had fabricated several claims.
The mailer said that Hanna had voted against “equal pay for equal work” for women and that he “voted to take away a woman’s right to make her own health decisions.” Hanna also challenged a charge that he and his supporters were making harassing phone calls while claiming to be representing O’Brien.
The criticism regarding equal pay is based in Hanna’s voting against the Fair Pay Act. Hanna said that bill did not guarantee “equal pay for equal work,” but rather would let the government set salaries for people who performed different jobs.
The committee sided with Hanna: “The allegation is sustained as Mr. Hanna did not ‘vote against equal pay for equal work’ as cited in the mailer. The mailer did also not identify the source of those responsible for the mailer. The mailer and the statements contained is a violation of Fair campaign Pledge Number 1 and are inaccurate and untruthful and should be publicly repudiated.”
There was “no proof” to support the claim regarding women’s choices about their health, the committee stated, and there was not a proper source citation for that charge, either. The decision said a citation on the mailer is “dated well before Mr. Hanna was in the state legislature.”
And, again, the committee found the claim regarding harassing phone calls was “without proof” and “inaccurate.”
Hanna responded to the decision Friday: “I call upon Ted O’Brien and his supporters to pull any and all advertising that lies about my record on these important issues. It’s shameful that Ted O’Brien has chosen to hide behind vicious dishonesty and personal attacks rather than talking about the issues that matter to the voters of our community.”
Regarding the mailer, O’Brien said in a statement: “I repudiate any third party ads the Committee has deemed unfair.”
Another fair election decision released Thursday found an ad supporting Hanna contained an inaccuracy about O’Brien.
A television advertisement for Hanna claimed that O’Brien “voted against funding for road and bridge improvement.”
The committee found that the vote was not related to funding and so the claim was “inaccurate and untruthful.”
O’Brien said: “The verdict is now in and I am heartened the Fair Elections Practices Committee’s decisions validate that Sean Hanna’s campaign has been misleading and deceptive on a historic scale.”
See both decisions below: