Non-partisan fact-checker calls pro-DiNicola ad “false,” “misleading,” “lacks context,” “erroneous,” “unsubstantiated”
BUTLER — FactCheck.org released a new report on October 19th titled “Misleading Ads from the DCCC” in which the organization dismantled the recent television ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) against Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA).
Mike Barley, Spokesman for Mike Kelly for Congress:
“This non-partisan fact-check effectively tears apart the recent ads that Democrats have been desperately running against Congressman Kelly. It exposes one of our opponent’s favorite talking points for what it is: a flat-out lie. It confirms what so many Western Pennsylvanians already suspect about Ron DiNicola: that’s he an unabashed liar and totally unfit for office. While Congressman Kelly is confidently running on a record of success, it’s pathetic that our opponents are resorting to verified lies and deceit to win. Fortunately, voters know the truth.”
Excerpts from the report:
In Pennsylvania, the DCCC claims that Rep. Mike Kelly’s “net worth increased by millions” while in Congress. But the source DCCC cites show that Kelly’s net worth has gone down since he took office.
The ad says, “2010. Car Dealer Mike Kelly is elected to Congress. And while there, his net worth increased by millions. So, it’s no surprise he helped give special tax breaks to car dealers — like himself.”
The first claim — about Kelly’s net worth increasing while in Congress — is unsubstantiated. The second — about “tax breaks” — lacks context.
The DCCC’s research report on Kelly says, “When Kelly ran for office, his net worth was an estimated $8.05 million. In 2015, after four years in Congress, Kelly’s net worth grew to an estimated $18.61 million – a $10.56 million increase.” That’s false.
The DCCC cites the Center for Responsive Politics as its source. But that group’s website – opensecrets.org – says Kelly’s average net worth was $34.6 million in 2010 when he ran for office, and it dropped to $19.3 million in 2011, his first year in Congress. Kelly took office on Jan. 3, 2011.
Amanda Sherman, a DCCC spokeswoman, made the point that Kelly filed a financial disclosure report in 2010, while a candidate for office, that showed he was worth $8.05 million in 2009. But when the reports were filed is irrelevant. The fact is Kelly’s average net worth increased before he took office, not while in office, as the ad erroneously claims.
As for the ad’s reference to “tax breaks” for car dealers, the DCCC is referring to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act — a $1.5 trillion law that overhauled the nation’s tax code. It cut corporate tax rates, changed the individual income tax brackets and reduced estate taxes, among other things.
While the narrator says that Kelly “helped give special tax breaks to car dealers like himself,” the ad displays a Wall Street Journal headline that says, “Car Dealers Win Carveout in Latest GOP Tax Proposal.” The Journal story was about a provision added on Nov. 9, 2017, that addressed the treatment of interest on “floor plan financing indebtedness,” which the global consulting firm KPMG explains is interest paid on loans that are “used to finance the acquisition of motor vehicles held for sale or lease.” That includes cars, boats, farm machinery or other vehicles purchased by dealers for lease or sale.
Car dealerships, for example, borrow money in order to maintain a stock of new and used cars on their lots. Under the old tax law, the interest on those loans was fully deductible. The House bill maintained 100 percent deductibility of interest.
Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, added the provision, according to the Wall Street Journal article cited by the DCCC. The story mentions that Kelly is one of three House members who “have been in the auto-dealing business.” He owns Mike Kelly Automotive Group in Butler, Pennsylvania.
Kelly is a member of the committee and voted for Brady’s amendment, but the DCCC offered no evidence that Kelly was involved in the drafting of the provision that affects his business.
We can’t say what role, if any, Kelly had in the House provision, but we know that the carveout would not have become law without the help of [Rand] Paul in the Senate. We also can say for sure that the passage of a bill in December 2017 had no impact on Kelly’s net worth while in Congress from 2011 to 2015, contrary to the DCCC’s implication.