But the Club for Growth already does disclose its donors, as required by law. The American Action Network, meanwhile, a 501(c)(4) organization that is running ads to promote Lugar, does not disclose its donors, and Lugar’s campaign hasn’t so much as raised a peep. Asked about the discrepancy, Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher says: “The Club for Growth counter misses the point altogether. There is a very serious issue of public trust regarding the $7 billion Treasurer Mourdock invests on behalf of Hoosiers. And Hoosiers have very serious questions about that.”
Finally, the Lugar campaign has played fast and loose with the facts. “Both Lugar’s campaign and the American Action Network are airing misleading attack ads against Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock,” FactCheck.org writes. “The ads strain the facts to make Mourdock look like a tax cheat who makes bad investments and does not show up for work.”
Consider the Lugar attack ad “Trust.” “For years,” the ad says, “Richard Mourdock received $45,000 in illegal second-homestead tax deductions.” That’s true: Mourdock received a homestead tax deduction for both his home in Evansville and his condo in Indianapolis, although state law grants each resident only one deduction on his primary residence. According to the county auditor’s office, however, the previous owner of the condo applied for the deduction, not Mourdock. Furthermore, Mourdock notified the office that he was wrongly receiving the deduction in 2007. Because of a filing error by the auditor’s office, he received the credit for the next three years. But when he again discovered the error in June 2011, Mourdock notified the auditor’s office once more, and the office admitted its error.
In addition, an American Action Network ad, “Problems,” claims that Mourdock’s “big bet on junk bonds” drained millions from state pension funds. FactCheck.org notes: “It’s true that three state funds that purchased Chrysler debt in 2008 lost money when that company went through bankruptcy in 2009. But Mourdock didn’t oversee the investments of the Indiana Teacher’s Retirement Fund, which is the only one that actually lost ‘millions’” What’s more, junk bonds make up 3.3 percent of the state’s portfolio. And since Mourdock took office in 2007, “he has earned over $1.3 billion in investment income on the state’s cash,” the Mourdock campaign says.
Finally, Lugar’s campaign has alleged that Mourdock missed more than two-thirds of the state Board of Finance meetings. That’s technically true, but 99 percent of the time, Mourdock has either attended or a senior staffer has represented him at the meeting, his campaign says.
Thus far, Lugar’s charges against Mourdock are making up in volume what they lack in strength. The desperate nature of the attacks — and their profusion — indicates that this primary race will be close.
— Brian Bolduc is an editorial associate for National Review.