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Fact Checking Noem, Varilek Attack Ads

October 11, 2012, 5:12 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Fact Checking Noem, Varilek Attack Ads
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

The advertisements in South Dakota's U.S. House race are now in attack mode.

Three new ads hit the airwaves this week in the race between Congresswoman Kristi Noem and her Democratic challenger Matt Varilek.

Congresswoman Kristi Noem released an ad that features her grandmother. The ad didn't attack Democratic opponent Matt Varilek, it attacked President Obama.

"About how Mr. Obama is robbing Medicare to pay for Obamacare; $700 billion in cuts. That's $716 billion,” the ad said.

That's a recycled claim that’s been made by Mitt Romney several times on the campaign trail and a claim several national fact-checkers have called a half-truth.

While Obamacare does reduce spending in Medicare by $716 billion dollars, it's reducing it for health care providers not patients. And it's not necessarily 'robbing' the Medicare fund to pay for Obamacare, but the cuts do offset other increases in spending in the new health care law.

What the ad doesn't say is that Representative Noem also voted for Medicare reform and reductions in Congressman Paul Ryan's budget.

Noem also makes the same claim in another ad released the week attacking Matt Varilek.

"Matt Varilek does say he agrees with President Obama on almost everything like taking $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare," the narrator said in Noem’s attack ad.

That is true, Varilek does say on his website Obamacare is a step forward and he would not repeal it.

But Varilek himself went on the attack this week criticizing Noem on her attendance record.

"In Noem's first year she skipped 16 of 20 Ag Committee hearings," the narrator said.

That is partly true, KELOLAND News has confirmed the fact that Noem has missed ag committee meetings. However, Noem's office disputes the number of meetings missed. The office says she was at a total of seven of 20 ag committee meetings. What the ad doesn't say is that Noem does show up to vote. She has a 99 percent voting record in committee and a 98 percent record on the House floor, something she highlighted in another ad this week.

"Matt Varilek doesn't tell you about Kristi Noem's 99 percent voting record and 800 constituent meetings,” the ad said.

While Noem claims in the commercial that she's had 800 constituent meetings, in a story last week Noem told KELOLAND News she's met with 600 constituents, and on her campaign website it says she's met with 500.

Noem's campaign says that 800 meetings with constituents claim came from a more thorough examination of the Congresswoman's schedule.

They say the number will be updated on the website.
 

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Congresswoman Noem's office says she was at three more ag committee meetings than Matt Varilek claims.

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