TRUTH TEST: NRCC zeroes in on Peterson in 7th District

The National Republican Congressional Committee identified long-time Democratic Congressman Collin Peterson as one of its top targets to knock off in the 2020 elections. It’s one reason the NRCC and other conservative groups are pouring millions of dollars into TV ads in that race.

"Back when you got a gold watch," one ad says. "A thank you for decades of service. Should Collin Peterson get one? He doesn’t need one. [Nancy] Pelosi’s given him millions. Thanks Collin, you’ve been golden."

We couldn’t verify Democratic House Speaker Pelosi has given Peterson "millions" over the years. The last direct contributions we can find from Pelosi to Peterson were in 2013 when her campaign donated $4,000 to Peterson’s campaign. Pelosi has donated millions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other groups that may have supported Peterson, but we can’t find where she’s given him specifically millions of dollars.

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The ad also refers to Peterson as a quote "close ally" of Pelosi, who is mostly unpopular in Minnesota’s conservative Seventh District. That description appears to come directly from "The Hill," a Washington, D.C., publication that described him that way in a recent profile. The article notes Peterson voted for Pelosi as speaker seven times.

"Got filthy rich in Congress," the ad goes on to say. "Came in with a Timex now worth hundreds of Rolexes."

It is true Peterson has grown much wealthier since he was first elected to Congress in 1990. His first financial disclosure in 1991 showed his income at about $45,000. According to the website, Peterson’s wealth grew the fourth fastest in Congress between 2008 and 2018. The website says his "average wealth grew from $123,500 in 2008 to more than $4.2 million in 2018.

The ad goes on to says Peterson is "spreading the wealth. Funneling a half a million campaign dollars to family."

It is true that Peterson’s son, Elliott, serves as his campaign treasurer. Peterson was criticized by an ethics watchdog group in 2014 when it reported that his son was earning more than $50,000 per year plus reimbursement for phone and internet service. In 2020, his son remains on the payroll earning $1,675 every two weeks, for a salary of about $40,000 plus phone and internet reimbursement.

This ad contains some information we couldn’t verify, but appears to be exaggerated. However, most of the ad includes truthful information. It gets a "B" on the "Truth Test."