TRUTH TEST: Republican PAC ad attacking Walz flames out, earns “F”

Most political television ads include elements of truth, half-truth and outright falsehoods, but some tip the scale so far toward misleading half-truths and falsehoods they fail the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS “Truth Test.”

An ad from a political action committee called Heal Minnesota is one of those ads. Heal Minnesota has a TV ad campaign funded by the Republican Governor’s Association, which supports Scott Jensen’s campaign — although the Jensen campaign says it has nothing to do with the producing the ad campaign.

The ad accurately states that “murders, robberies, assaults, rape” are all up in Minnesota over the past couple years. The ad goes astray when it assigns all the blame for that to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

“But what is Gov. Tim Walz’s response? He pushed to defund our police.”

This statement is false. There is no record of Walz ever supporting or “pushing” to defund police. The ad cites a Star Tribune newspaper article from June 2020 to support the claim. However, even that article doesn’t say anything about defunding police.

The article says, in part, “Walz, accompanied by DFL leaders, challenged the Legislature to meet calls for action sparked by his death and the protests in Minnesota and across the nation. The DFL plan would reform use-of-force standards, increase oversight of police discipline and encourage community-based alternatives to traditional law enforcement.”

It was based on a news conference held by Walz and DFL state lawmakers on the eve of a special session of the Minnesota Legislature. At no time during that news conference did anyone talk about or propose defunding police.

Walz also publicly opposed a vote on a Minneapolis charter amendment that would have dismantled the existing Minneapolis Police Department and replaced it with some form of public safety department. That amendment was supported by several Minneapolis City Council members and Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, who did publicly call for defunding police.  Walz joined other Democrats like Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Congresswoman Angie Craig in opposing the charter amendment.

Also, last spring Walz proposed $300 million in a supplemental budget proposal to support crime and public safety initiatives across the state, including money to help local police recruit new police officers.

The ad goes on to make misleading statements about the Walz response to the riots in Minneapolis after the George Floyd murder.

“And when Minneapolis was burning, Walz was missing in action,” the ad states. “He refused to act.”

The ad accurately cites an article in the Star Tribune newspaper in August 2020 in which Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says Walz “hesitated” to deploy the National Guard during the riots. However, the article goes on to outline disagreement between Minneapolis officials and the Walz administration about how quickly the National Guard was formally requested. Walz did eventually act by calling in the Guard the following day.

As for whether Walz was “missing in action,” he did not make any public appearances during one of the worst nights of rioting. However, that doesn’t mean he was “missing in action” or not coordinating a response.

Because the ad includes mostly false or misleading information, it gets an “F” on the 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS “Truth Test.”

Truth Test
How KSTP Grades Political Ads in Truth Test
  • An “A” requires nearly complete accuracy with little exaggeration and little or no need for more context.
  • A “B” requires mostly accurate information, but gets marked down for minor exaggerations or misleading information.
  • A “C” can be the result of inaccurate information or exaggerated information that misleads or gives the viewer no context.
  • A “D” is the result of at least half the information being false or misleading to the point of leaving a false impression.
  • An “F” is the result of more than half the information being outright false or misleading or out of context.