Politics & Government

Ad watch: Ami Bera ad takes too many liberties

Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove’s second TV ad of the race ups the ante by attacking Republican rival Doug Ose on the subject of his personal wealth.

Following is text of the ad and analysis by Christopher Cadelago of The Bee Capitol Bureau.

Narrator: “Dr. Ami Bera swore an oath to serve others. Bera championed a bill that says if Congress doesn’t do its job, it shouldn’t get paid.

Bera kept his promise, and during the shutdown he returned his pay.

But former Congressman Doug Ose? He’s out to serve himself. Ose invested millions on Wall Street, and voted to loosen the rules on the banks.

He let the banks prey on homeowners, making millions for Ose and his Wall Street friends. For Doug Ose, it pays to be in Congress.”

Analysis: A graphic on the screen states that the No Budget, No Pay legislation championed by Bera was “signed into law.” But, as previously noted by The Sacramento Bee, the version co-sponsored by the congressman stalled. A different version he supported became law as part of the deal on the debt ceiling. It applied only to a single fiscal year and was designed to withhold congressional pay just temporarily, regardless of whether a budget was passed.

Bera did not “return” his pay during the shutdown. He donated a rough estimate of his after-tax salary to a pair of local charities.

Ose, a successful land developer, already had millions of dollars invested in stocks when he entered Congress, and his wealth grew considerably while he served. Consistent with pledges he made in his first campaign, Ose cast many votes to repeal what he deemed as over-burdensome regulations.

In 1999, he voted to repeal parts of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act regulating financial institutions. The rollback was signed by President Bill Clinton. Some experts contend the repeal helped contribute to the Great Recession, though others assert it had little to do with the economic downturn.

Later, he joined a bipartisan vote to to make it more difficult for people to file for bankruptcy. He voted for various versions three times between 2001 and 2004.

But the gist of the ad, that Ose is out to serve himself and his Wall Street associates, is unfair. Members of Congress take action on bills that affect many facets of the United States and global economy.

In a nutshell, there’s a difference between members like Ose voting in favor of Wall Street-backed legislation and a direct cause-and-effect relationship between their votes and their own stock portfolio.