Friday, August 04, 2006

Supporting Documentation For Corker's Character Problem

In the last two weeks, Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant have had this to say about Bob Corker…

Van Hilleary’s Ad “Important”

VAN HILLEARY [Speaking]: As an old military man, some things are more important to me than any election. Accountability. Truth. Honor. But my opponent Bob Corker has lost sight of that. By now you’ve seen those nasty ads Mr. Corker made. These papers say Mr. Corker’s ads are:

[ONSCREEN and SPOKEN: Not true (CTFP), misleading (Tennessean)]

They even call Bob’s charge:

[ONSCREEN and SPOKEN: A lie (Knox News Sentinel)]

Bob Corker may want to win at any cost. But I want to serve our state with honor. I’m Van Hilleary, I approve this message and I ask for your vote.

Ed Bryant’s Ad "Too Many Lies"

Ed Bryant: "I’m Ed Bryant and I approve this message."

ANNOUNCER [v/o]: "The press called Bob Corker’s attack on Ed Bryant 'a lie'. The Tennessean said Corker’s misleading ad is a 'character issue'. Corker is even lying about his own record. As mayor, he raised property taxes and increased spending. Promised he or his subcontractors never hired illegal aliens but Corker got caught with illegal aliens working on his construction site. Bob Corker. False Ads. Too many lies.

Van Hilleary’s Ad "Honor"

ANNOUNCER [v/o]: Van Hilleary served our country with honor in combat.

(Text on screen: Hilleary Awarded Air Medal For Service)

Van defended our troops in Congress, and he's running an honorable campaign for the Senate. But Bob Corker's running a cowardly smear campaign falsely attacking Van Hilleary. It's wrong. (Text on screen: Corker's Negative TV Ad; It's False; Knoxville News-Sentinel, 7/20/06)

Corker never served our country in uniform; never defended freedom in combat. How can Corker question Van's character?

The choice: Corker's dirty politics or Van Hilleary. Send a soldier to the Senate.

VAN HILLEARY [v/o]: I'm Van Hilleary, and I approved this message. (Text on screen: Paid For By Hilleary For Senate)

…and this is how Bob Corker responded, running negative ads against Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant nonstop through Election Day

Script of "The Twins" (TV)

ANNOUNCER [v/o]: They're like twins -- Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant.

Congressmen who voted to allow illegal immigration to become a crisis.

Stood by as spending skyrocketed, but voted to raise their own pay. And then became registered lobbyists.

Bob Corker gets things done. To control spending, keep taxes low, fix immigration, the choice is yours.

Ineffective career politicians or a successful businessman and mayor.

BOB CORKER [v/o]: I'm Bob Corker, and I approve this message.

Script of "Ridiculous" (TV)

BOB CORKER [v/o]: I'm Bob Corker, and I approve this message.

ANNOUNCER [v/o]: Ed Bryant is making personal attacks. The nonpartisan called his ad a "false" and "unfounded attack."

(Text on screen:

The Tennessean called a previous attack "ridiculous."

(Text on screen: 11/05/05)

The truth: Ed Bryant raised taxes by billions, sat by while spending in Washington skyrocketed.

As Chattanooga's mayor, Bob Corker controlled spending. Now property tax rates are the lowest since the 1950s.

The choice? A successful businessman and mayor, or an ineffective congressman.

Bob Corker’s negative—and false—ads led to findings by a leading nonpartisan authority on accuracy in political campaigns that Corker was “grossly misleading” voters and lying about lowering taxes in Chattanooga

Devolution in Tennessee

Distorted charges fly in Republican Senate primary; pay-raise nonsense and tax-cheat silliness.

July 28, 2006


Senate candidate Bob Corker accuses two rivals of voting to raise their own pay while in the House, but in fact Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant repeatedly voted against raises.

Bryant fires back with a charge that Corker failed to pay his taxes, when in fact businessman Corker paid millions, sometimes voluntarily giving the government more than he owed.


Tennessee's GOP Senate primary pits wealthy businessman (and former Chattanooga mayor) Corker against former House members Hilleary and Bryant. It's a bitter race marked by factual distortions. The winner of the Aug. 3 vote likely will face Democratic Rep. Harold Ford in November for the seat being vacated by Republican Senate Leader Bill Frist.

A Corker ad that started airing July 18 says the other two "voted to raise their own pay," a grossly misleading claim. In fact, both men voted against pay increases every time they had a clean shot.

Annual raises for House and Senate members have been automatic since 1989, unless blocked by a vote of Congress. During the eight years that Hilleary and Bryant served in the House (Jan. 3, 1995 - Jan. 3, 2003) pay raises were blocked three times, for the fiscal years 1996, 1997, and 1999. Both men voted against the pay raises on each occasion.

FY 1996: On Sept. 8, 1995 Democratic Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin moved on the House floor to instruct House conferees on an appropriations bill to, in his words, "accept the Senate amendment numbered 130, which in essence indicates that the congressional pay will be frozen for yet another year." The motion passed 387 - 31, House conferees did as instructed, and the Congressional pay freeze became law for fiscal year 1996, which started Oct. 1 1995.

FY 1997: Hilleary and Bryant also voted to block the next annual pay raise. On July 16, 1996 they both voted for an amendment offered by Republican Rep. Jack Metcalf of Washington, to freeze Congressional pay for a second straight year. It passed 352 - 67 and later became law for fiscal year 1997.

FY 1999: In June 1998 an appropriations bill (H.R. 4104) came out of committee containing another pay freeze for Congress. Both Hilleary and Bryant voted on July 16 against an amendment offered by Democratic Rep. Bill Hefner of North Carolina that would have stripped out the ban and allowed the pay raise to take effect. The vote was 79 - 442, so the move to restore the pay raise failed.

Corker's campaign manager Ben Mitchell defends the pay-raise allegation. He argues that because Hilleary and Bryant at times voted for appropriations bills that didn't contain a pay-raise ban, they effectively voted to increase their pay. We find that logic faulty, to put matters charitably. Others have been more blunt. The Nashville Tennessean said in an editorial July 27 that the pay-raise claim was "not true" and that Corker's ad "should have been removed immediately." It said Corker was "creating a character issue" by refusing to withdraw the ad and admit that it was deceptive. Earlier, on July 23, the editor of the Knoxville News Sentinel called the ad a "lie" on the same day that the newspaper endorsed Corker for the GOP nomination. In a signed opinion column editor Jack McElroy called Corker a "likeable guy," then added: "But, the truth be told, his recent campaign ad does tell a lie. . . . Only by the most twisted manipulation of facts - and certainly not with a straight face - can that [pay raise] assertion be made."

Flattery Will Get You Nowhere

An ad in Tennessee quotes, but we find it to be one-sided and misleading.

August 1, 2006


Republican Senate candidate Bob Corker aired a TV ad using's logo and saying we called an opponent's ad "false." That's true. We also said a Corker ad was "grossly misleading," and we find that his current ad misleads by falsely implying that he lowered taxes in Chattanooga when he was mayor. Actually, real-estate tax levies rose by nearly one third during his four-year tenure.


We suppose we should be flattered. A new TV ad in Tennessee's bitter Aug. 3 GOP Senate primary quotes us – but tells only half the story, and goes on to repeat a misleading boast about taxes.

Corker's ad complains that he's being attacked personally by two rivals, ex-Reps. Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary, and goes on to state that "The nonpartisan called Bryant's attack ads 'false.'"

That's true as far as it goes. We did label as false Bryant's claim that Corker "avoided paying his taxes," because in fact Corker paid millions in taxes and there's no evidence he paid any less than he owed.

What Corker's latest ad leaves out is that in the same article we also called one of his own attacks "grossly misleading" for accusing Bryant and Hilleary of voting to raise their own House pay. In fact both of them voted repeatedly against raises. We were charitable. One Tennessee commentator called the pay-raise claim a "lie."

Taxes up or down?

Corker's latest ad also repeats a claim that he has made throughout the campaign which – while it is true – is also misleading. It says that as mayor of Chattanooga "Bob Corker controlled spending, now property tax rates are the lowest since the 1950s."

It is true that city spending was in check during Corker's time as mayor, from April 2001 through April 2005. The city trimmed its payroll by 250 employees and the city's operating budget grew at close to the rate of inflation. It is also true that Chattanooga's property tax rate was recently lowered to $2.202 for every $100 of assessed valuation, which is the lowest since 1958, according to the city's finance office.

However, that does not mean that taxes went down. They did not. They rose at more than triple the rate of inflation, pushed up by rising property values and a big tax-rate increase in Corker's first year. Far from being the "lowest since the 1950's," as one might easily assume from Corker's ad, Chattanooga's property tax bills rose nearly 32.5 per cent during Corker's tenure, according to a table on page 108 of the city's 2005 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.In the fiscal year that was nearing an end as Corker took office in April 2001, the city levied $63 million in real-estate taxes, but four years later as he was leaving office it levied $83.5 million. During that same same period the Consumer Price Index was rising only 9.1 per cent.

Furthermore, the tax rate didn't drop to its current level until after Corker left office. During his tenure it was $2.516 per $100 of assessed valuation, higher than in any of the previous four years. The reason that the tax rate dropped to its present level after Corker left is that appraised property values were adjusted upward and the rate proportionately downward, as required by state law. Property owners can expect to see no benefit from this, however, as the two adjustments are supposed to offset each other according to city and county officials.

Numerous Republicans have acknowledged that the “questionable history” of Corker’s “phony” and “dishonest” politics, where “no lie is too big,” have made him “the king of liars,” creating created deep bitterness and disunity

  • At a press conference, Hilleary tells the media Corker “cannot buy integrity and honor with a $2 million check”: "You cannot buy integrity and honor with a $2 million check. You can buy a bunch of ads, but you can simply not buy integrity and honor," Hilleary said. "He needs to show us that he has integrity and honor. And unfortunately, he has not done that with the ad mix he has had up." (Nashville City Paper, 08/01/06)

  • Hilleary called Corker’s ads “devoid of honor and integrity”: “Candidate Van Hilleary charged that rival Bob Corker of Chattanooga is running ads that are “devoid of honor and integrity” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 08/01/06)

  • “Bob Corker Fails To Demonstrate Character and Integrity: Again” (Ed Bryant Release, 07/29/06)

  • Tennessee Right to Life will not support Bob Corker in the general election: “Should Corker win the Republican primary, Harris said Right to Life will not support any Senate candidate in the November election.” (Knoxville News Sentinel, 06/24/2006)

  • “Mr. Harris said ‘we’re very strongly opposed (to Mr. Corker), and if he wins the primary, I’m sure we’ll be very busy on other races. We will not support him. We will not support his bid for election.’" (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/23/2006)

  • Bryant labels Corker "the king of liars": “Quarrelling among the Republican Senate candidates seemed something of a liar's contest on Thursday. The Corker campaign sent media a statement trying to debunk Bryant's latest television ad, which had accused Corker of lying in his earlier ads. Shulman fired back by calling Corker "the king of liars." (Knoxville News Sentinel, 7/28/2006)

  • “[Corker’s] negative ads against Bryant and Hilleary are stupid, wrong, and more importantly in politics, they do not pass the smell test.” – Knoxville Metro Pulse columnist Frank Cagle on Corker’s misleading ad [Knoxville Metro Pulse, 8/3/06]

  • State Representative Chris Clem, R-Lookout Mountain, claims that many elected Republicans and conservative leaders are telling him they will not support Bob Corker in the general election: “Rep. Chris Clem, R-Lookout Mountain, said, “Bob Corker needs to promise to stop systematically and consistently opposing conservatives at every turn.” In his e-mail, Rep. Clem, who is backing Ed Bryant in the GOP primary, listed “12 reasons why conservatives do not trust Bob Corker.” He said in an interview that he sent the e-mail to about 15 friends, including some Republican state legislators. He said he has heard back from some recipients and now has roughly 20 reasons against voting for Mr. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor. “I’m getting so many e-mails back from legislators saying, ‘I’m never going to support this guy,’” Rep. Clem said.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 07/06/06)

  • The Republican activist group Team GOP called on U.S. Senate candidate Bob Corker a political phony, who is undermining the GOP from within: “Mr. Ward said of TeamGOP, "We rarely discuss issues; however we always seek party loyalty. Our belief is simple. We are not opposed to Mayor Corker because is too moderate or too conservative. We oppose his candidacy because Bob Corker is a political phony. That may be good enough for Jimmy Naifeh; I don't believe it is good enough for the average Tennessee Republican. "If Bob Corker cares so much about the Republican Party that he seeks to represent, he should do the right thing and end his course of undermining the GOP from within and withdraw from the Senate race." (Chattanoogan, 04/13/2006)

  • Team GOP chair says Corker has lost trust of Republicans: “Jeff Ward,'s general chairman, said, ‘After another revelation this past weekend that again undermined Bob Corker's credibility as a Republican when he chose to vote in Democrat primaries, it is now clear that Bob Corker has lost the trust and faith of rank and file Republicans across this state’… He stated, ‘This was just another revelation about Bob Corker in a long line of events that has raised serious questions about Bob Corker and the integrity of his race in the Republican primary. This is the same Bob Corker who supported abortion rights and attacked Bill Frist's GOP credentials in 1994, but all the while was donating to Democrats the same year. This is the same Bob Corker that discussed with Democrat House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh 'about his running in the future as a Democrat,' and that Corker was a Democrat 'deep down inside.' This is the same Bob Corker who held a meet and greet at his home in 2002 for Phil Bredesen during the gubernatorial campaign." (, 4/3/2006)

  • Christian radio powerhouse with stations in Memphis and Nashville ran editorials questioning Corker’s credentials: “A Christian radio network, with stations in Memphis and Nashville, challenged Corker's ad that highlighted his pro-life stance after getting dozens of complaints from listeners. ‘We aired our editorial giving the rest of the story,’ said Rich Bott, executive vice president of the Kansas-based Bott Radio Network… The campaign declined to renew its contract with the station, Bott said. ‘We're not sorry we lost his business,’ Bott said. ‘It's more important for us that our listeners trust us to tell them the truth.’" (7/9/2006 Tennessean)

  • Columnist and 2002 Hilleary for Governor Communications Director Frank Cagle, says it is ‘ridiculous’ to suggest Corker shares a conservative viewpoint with Bryant or Hilleary: “It is unfortunate he has been running a dishonest campaign. It does not serve him well, nor does it serve the voters… Corker, throughout this campaign, has tried to paint himself as a “conservative” with no difference on the issues between him and his opponents, Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary. To suggest they share a conservative viewpoint is ridiculous.” (Frank Cagle, Knoxville Metropulse, 7/20/2006)

  • Donna Locke of Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform said, "Apparently no lie is too big and wild for Bob Corker as he tries to buy this Senate seat," said Donna Locke, with Tennesseans for Immigration Control and Reform. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 7/20/2006)

  • Conservative radio host Steve Gill posts on his website that there is reason to not support Corker: “Do we really need a Republican nominee that the Tennessean prefers over those with real conservative credentials?) If the Don "Tax and Spend-quist" is for Corker, isn't that reason enough to voter for one of the other two candidates? ( Daily Notes, 7/23/2006)

  • Jonathan Lindberg, publisher of the conservative Main Street Journal, organizer of a January debate wonders if Corker is trying to raise the most money for ads rather than debate the issues: "I think voters get the wrong message when a candidate refuses to debate in a valid, approved forum. When I read in the Commercial Appeal that the Corker campaign has confidence in their touted war chest, saying they will turn the election around overnight, I wonder, is this campaign really about debating the issues, or is this campaign about raising the most money and running the most 30-second ads?" (Main street Journal Press Release, 12/29/2005)

  • Conservative blogger Bill Hobbs urges voters to support Bryant to prevent a Corker nomination: “Now, with Corker dumping $1.7 million of his own money into the race to try to buy the nomination that appears to be in danger of slipping through his fingers, Hilleary supporters have a stark choice to make: Vote for a guy who will finish third, or vote for Bryant, someone with whom Hilleary agrees on virtually all of the issues - Ed Bryant - in order to prevent Corker from winning the nomination…By dropping out now, Hilleary could ensure that Tennessee conservatives who back either him or Bryant won't have to go to the polls in November holding their noses to vote for Corker in order to prevent the election of "Sen. Harold Ford Jr." (Bill Hobbs,, 7/20/2006)

  • Republican State Representative Stacey Campfield cannot get past Corker’s ‘questionable history’: “Bob and Bob’s wife have a bad history of helping out the wrong side in many races. They don't help the party or its candidates much and have supported many democrats. They have low name recognition and Bob is weak on the issues that are important to republican primary voters (Right to life and taxes). (Stacey Campfield,, 9/12/2005)

  • Former Anderson County Republican Chair Terry Frank says Corker is the wrong candidate: “See, Corker gives Democrats the warm and fuzzy feeling of having two good liberal choices. If a Democrat Party Chairman has nice things to say about our candidate, then that candidate just can’t be the right candidate.” (, 7/6/2006)

  • Shelby County School Board Chairman David Pickler, ‘Bob Corker's decision to boycott this important debate deprives the people of West Tennessee. If Bob Corker is afraid to address the critical issues in an honest forum of debate, how can we seriously appraise his integrity as a candidate and evaluate his true beliefs and governing philosophies?’ (Main Street Journal Press, 12/19/05)

  • Van Hilleary campaign refers to Corker as a liar whose deceit is breathtaking: “Bob Corker can rephrase the line as many times as he wants, but it's still a lie. His deceit is breathtaking," Coxe said.” (Tennessean, 7/26/2006)

  • “Hilleary's ad calls Corker's campaign cowardly” Memphis Commercial Appeal headline, 07/25/06

  • Hilleary charged Bob Corker was attempting to hijack the Republican party and it’s philosophy: “People listening need to take note please, cause this is a sort of a hijacking of our party and our philosophy if Bob wins this seat. And he obviously is not who he says he is. We’ve seen this over and over again. If you went to a dictionary and looked up the classic definition of someone changing everything about themselves to try and win a race and then buy it with massive amounts of money, that’s what this is all about. It’s not much more complicated than that.” (Hilleary, Kevin Wall Show Forum, 07/24/06)

  • Bryant said there was ‘apparent hypocrisy’ in a Corker ad: “Mr. Bryant said there was ‘apparent hypocrisy’ with Mr. Corker’s ad. He cited a 1988 federal raid of a Memphis construction site where Bencor, a company Mr. Corker co-founded, used subcontractors found to have hired illegal immigrant labor.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 07/20/06)

  • Van Hilleary campaign manager declared Corker had “no regard for the truth and no respect for Tennessee voters”: “Bob Corker has no regard for the truth and no respect for Tennessee voters,” said Jennifer Coxe, Hilleary campaign manager. (Nashville City Paper, 7/20/06)

  • Bryant called a Corker accusation a bald-faced lie and hypocritical to boot: "Bob Corker's accusation that Ed Bryant voted to raise his own pay is a bald-faced lie," stated Bryant spokesman Andrew Shulman. "Bob Corker's lie is hypocritical to boot  this is a man whose own pay increased at least 9% while he was raising taxes on Chattanoogans by 24%, creating a brand-spanking-new hotel/motel tax, and fighting against giving police officers their step pay raise increase, all while he jacked up the cost of health insurance for all city employees.” (Bryant Press Release, 7/19/2006)

  • Republicans say once voters learn about Corker, then his “house of cards” will fall: “Both the Hilleary and Bryant campaigns have been bashing Corker for months on his changed stance on abortion – was pro-choice but now pro-life – his choice to raise property taxes by 48 cents as Mayor as well as a subcontractor for his construction company that employed four illegal immigrants. “Once voters learn about those things, then I think Corker’s house of cards will begin to fall,” Jennifer Coxe [Hilleary’s Campaign Manager] said.” (Nashville City Paper, 07/05/06)

  • "Bob Corker has a well-documented history of not telling the whole truth about his record, on taxes, abortion, government spending and now illegal immigration. And now, Mr. Corker won't come clean with Tennesseans and release his full tax records - what is he hiding from the voters?" (6/27/2006 Bryant Press Release, Bryant Calls On Corker To Release Full Tax Records)

  • Bryant campaign says Corker owes voters an explanation about Haiti ad, or they’ll assume he will say anything to get elected: "If Mr. Corker learned 'every life is sacred' on his mission trip to Haiti in the 80's as he says he did, he owes Tennesseans an explanation for supporting abortion rights when he ran to the left of Bill Frist in 1994, refusing to say that life begins at conception, and for opposing pro-life legislation in 1995 as Don Sundquist's Finance Commissioner - both just a few years after he returned from Haiti," stated Bryant spokesman Andrew Shulman. "Otherwise, we'll have to conclude Mr. Corker will say anything to get elected, even on a fundamental issue like abortion, and we'll be left wondering who distrusts Bob Corker more: the pro-choice Tennesseans he courted in 1994 or the pro-life Tennesseans he opposed in 1995." (6/26/2006 Bryant Press Release, Bob Corker's Pro-Life Conversion Raises Questions)

  • “Mr. Hilleary accused Mr. Corker of ‘playing’ a ‘pretend conservative on TV’" (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 06/25/06)

  • Van Hilleary campaign charged Bob Corker has a character problem: ‘Bob Corker has a character problem. He can't tell the truth about his own record. ... It's leading people to believe he's 100 percent pro-life and has always been pro-life.’" (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 6/23/06)

  • Van Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe says Corker has credibility gap and voters can’t trust him: "…And on the all-important issue of life, Corker says he was against protecting life before he was for it." "Bob Corker has a credibility gap. He can't tell the truth about his record and he misleads people about his opponents' records," said Coxe. "Why should voters trust Bob Corker to vote for pro-life legislation on the federal level when he killed similar state legislation when he was Don Sundquist's Commissioner of Finance and Administration?" (6/22/2006 Hilleary release, Corker Runs Another False Ad)

  • “’Corker says he will be tough on illegal immigration - but in fact he is attempting to buy this election with false ads paid for in part from the money he made off the backs of illegal aliens working on his construction sites,” (Hilleary release, Corker Runs Another False Ad, 6/22/06)

  • “Bryant spokesperson Andrew Shulman: ‘It doesn't matter because Tennessee voters will be able to see through his hypocritical and deceitful ad campaign and they will know his true record’" (Knoxville News-Sentinel, 6/15/2006)

  • “Bryant spokesman Andrew Shulman said the immigration ad and issue are part of what he called a ‘hypocritical and deceitful’ pattern in advertising by Mr. Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor. He questioned other ads about Mr. Corker's position on abortion and raising taxes while mayor.” (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 06/06/2006)

  • “Once again, Bob Corker's ads say one thing, Bob Corker's records say just the opposite," said Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe. (Chattanooga Times Free Press, 06/05/2006)

  • "This is just another example of Bob Corker's deliberately deceitful efforts to hide the truth about his record. He claims to be tough on hiring illegal immigrants but the record proves not only did he have illegal immigrants on the job site, but he ignored repeated warnings from public officials not to do so, just like he ignored warnings he received about the crisis facing Chattanooga's emergency response system and allowed the city's 911 system to deteriorate into 911 'Dial-a-Prayer'” (Jun-05-2006 Bryant Release, Corker Busted For Illegal Immigrants On His Construction Site, While Hypocritically Claiming To Be Tough On Illegal Immigrants In TV Ad)

  • Mayor Corker is thumbing his nose at Tennesseans and seems content to run out the clock before answering the questions of what he knew, when he knew it and what he did about fraud, waste and abuse in Chattanooga city government. (May-26-2006 Bryant Release, Corker Celebrates 100th Day of Ducking Chattanooga Fraud-Related Questions)

    214 Days

    Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

    Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

    It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

    It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

    I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

    Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!