Hubbard Broadcasting's decision to pull anti-Stewart Mills attack ad sparks controversy
In a speech, Mills said the notion the wealthy don't pay their fair share in taxes "is offensive for anybody who operates a business or employs people" -- i.e., him.
An attack ad supported by the House Majority PAC (HMP) portrays Republican Eighth District congressional candidate Stewart Mills as a rich dude who is "personally offended" by the notion that 1 percenters should pay substantially more in taxes than everyday folks.
But the Mills campaign says the ad takes Stewart's words out of context to make them sound worse than they really were, and late last month they issued a press release calling upon TV stations to stop airing the spot.
First, here's the ad, which makes this core claim: Mills believes "the idea that the wealthy aren't paying their fair share is... personally offensive."
A fact check published on the Mills campaign's website claims HMP "manipulated the timing of Stewart's words and strung together multiple clips to distort his words and take his positions out of context. In fact, they took 3 separate sentences and played them off as one statement."
One media outlet bought that argument and decided to stop running the commercial -- Hubbard Broadcasting, which owns KSTP in the Twin Cities and WDIO in Duluth.
But adding intrigue to the situation is the fact that the Hubbard family has given gobs of money to Mills, the Mills Fleet Farm vice president who is running to oust Democratic incumbent Rick Nolan from Congress.
The National Journal reports that Hubbard Broadcasting's owner, Stanley Hubbard, donated the maximum of $5,200 to Mills's campaign. Two other Hubbard family members who work for the broadcasting company kicked in $6,200 combined.
The Hubbards' support of Mills, combined with the decision to pull the ad from KSTP and WDIO, prompted HMP to hit back.
"When Hubbard told the Koch brothers, 'You can count on me,' it is now clear what he meant -- he will pull the strings necessary to see ultraconservative out-of-touch candidates like Stewart Mills protected on the air," HMP and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (the other organization paying to run the ad) said in a joint statement.
HMP claims Mills's quotes were only edited because of time considerations, not for the sake of twisting his words.
Ray Mirabella, director of sales for the Hubbards' operation in the Twin Cities, told the National Review that Stanley Hubbard played no role in the decision to stop running the ad.
The process in this case was "identical to any process we go through for any advertising," Mirabella added.
Adding to the controversy is the fact that other TV stations continue to run the anti-Mills attack ad. The Star Tribune reports that HMP and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees have spent $675,000 to run the spot since July 22.
But the question remains: Is the ad actually misleading?
(For more, click to page two.)
Raw footage of the speech in question makes clear Mills is indignant about wealthy "job creators" being portrayed as exploitative, selfish jerks. His remarks also establish that Mills believes society is best off when the rich can keep as much of their money as possible, the hope being they'll invest it productively. So to the extent that's the point the HMP ad makes, it's tough to say their attacks are misleading.
But judge for yourself. Here's the raw video, with the pertinent part beginning around 11:15 and lasting until about the 15-minute mark:
Of course, many conservatives agree with that sort of economic philosophy. But Democrats are wagering Mills's trickle-down, get-government-out-of-the-economy-and-the-taxman-out-of-my-pocketbook views are political losers in 2014. In fact, just yesterday, the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee distributed a press release highlighting Mills's opposition to raising the minimum wage, which went up in Minnesota for the first time in nearly a decade last Friday.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.
- Homeless youth Don Turner chases down thief in downtown Minneapolis
- Protest participation costs Black Lives Matter's Adja Gildersleve an apartment
- Al Franken wants to make college textbooks free