Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, has entered the mudslinging fray between 1st District Congressman Jim Hansen, R-Utah, and challenger Gunn McKay to chide McKay for twisting Hansen's voting
record.Peter Jenks, Hansen campaign manager, said that Garn agreed to tape a television commercial that began airing Wednesday morning. Garn disputes McKay's assertion that Hansen changed his vote on the 65 mph speed limit bill and dismisses McKay linking honorariums Hansen received while speaking to defense contractors to a soft voting record on Pentagon waste and fraud.
"Frankly, Jake (Garn) is furious about what he has seen in the ads," Jenks said. "He is very forcefully going to say that McKay is perpetrating the biggest distortion of a voting record in Utah history."
The Garn ad is the latest addition to three negative television ads that have heated up the state's closest congressional race. The campaigns aren't ruling out other ads. The latest Deseret News/KSL-TV poll showed McKay trailing by 10 percentage points.
McKay fired the first negative volley on Oct. 21 with an ad questioning Hansen's vote on the 65 mph speed limit bill. He then began airing the honorarium-defense vote ad last Wednesday. Last weekend Hansen began returning McKay's salvos with an ad saying that McKay voted to increase his pay by 5.5 percent in 1979.
The Mckay campaign said the most recent ad shows Hansen let personal gain come before protecting Utah's interest in national defense. Hansen responded by saying that he is opposed to "scoundrels' in the defense industry. While not disputing the fact he received $16,000 in honorariums from defense contractors in 1987, he said that he has voted for defense spending reforms.
"It disappoints me that McKay has given an inaccurate view of my position on procurement reform by attempting to mislead the people of Utah into believing that I vote against reform. The fact is, that I have voted for numerous procurement proposals and I will continue to vote for legislation I believe offers true reform," Hansen said.
Jenks said that McKay is being hypocritical. McKay accepted honorariums during his 10-year term in office but now supports abolishing them.
Hansen's acceptance of honorariums has been earlier questioned by McKay. Hansen missed a house vote on a catastrophic health care bill because he was in Las Vegas speaking. Hansen's record was highlighted in a front-page story in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal about honorarium abuse.
Hansen's congressional press secretary Kathy Gallegos questioned McKay's selective use of Hansen's voting record on Pentagon contract reform. The McKay campaign explained in a release they based the ad on five of Hansen's votes during 1985 and 1986. McKay says that Hansen voted against legislation to make it tougher for Pentagon officials to be hired by defense contractors, voted against requiring competitive bidding on weapons contracts and voted against giving the inspector general power to punish contractors.
Gallegos, who once worked for McKay, said that, in the case of three of the pieces of legislation, similarly-tough alternatives that had less flaws and cost less were voted on the same day. Hansen voted for the alternatives. Gallegos said she could not speak about two of the votes without further research.
"Shame on Gunn McKay for turning these votes around. He ought to know better," Gallegos said.
In a response the 65 mph ad, Hansen advisers admitted that Hansen indeed voted for and then against a highway funding bill that included the 65 mph speed limit amendment and $5 billion tunnel in the district of former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, D-Mass. Gallegos said Hansen believed that the vote was a procedural move that may have resulted in the removal of "pork barrel" projects while preserving the 65 mph amendment.
McKay's campaign responded Monday to the Hansen ad saying that the ad doesn't tell the whole story. The ad say McKay, "a liberal from the past," voted for the 5.5 percent pay increase on Sept. 25, 1979. Quoting a front-page Washington Post article the ad indicates that McKay was the deciding vote for the pay raise.