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Ad Watch | Attack on Walter Dalton

Former N.C. Sen. Robert Pittenger, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, is running a new TV ad against his Democratic challenger, state Sen., Walter Dalton. It's called “Favors.”

What the ad says

Announcer: “Raleigh's pigging out. Take Senator Walter Dalton. Dalton gave Goodyear tax breaks … after they hired his brother-in-law. Dalton made state insurance pay for erectile dysfunction drugs … while Dalton's daughter was the drug company's lobbyist. Dalton gave Dell special tax breaks … while he owned Dell stock.

“Wasteful Walter Dalton. He made government work … for Walter Dalton.”

The ad features cartoon images of pigs prancing around with bags of money.

The background

Let's take the charges one at a time.

In September 2007, the General Assembly passed an economic incentives bill that would give Goodyear more than $24 million over 10 years. On a strictly party-line vote, Dalton voted in favor and Pittenger voted against. Goodyear hired Dalton's brother-in-law – former Republican legislator and gubernatorial candidate Chuck Neely – on Aug. 31, a day after Gov. Mike Easley vetoed an early version of the incentives bill. Dalton publicly supported that version. But when it passed the Senate overwhelmingly, he was absent.

Under one version of the 2004 budget, drugs such as Cialis – after a four-year absence – reappeared on a list of those eligible for coverage under the state health plan. Dalton, a chief budget writer, said at the time that the suggestion came out of a subcommittee. The measure passed the Senate but never became law. Dalton's daughter Elizabeth Dalton was a lobbyist for Eli Lilly, which manufactured Cialis. Aides say Dalton also has voted against his daughter's clients, such as the N.C. Retail Merchants. And they say he voted for a similar drug provision in an earlier budget, when his daughter was still in college.

In 2004, Dalton was among a majority of lawmakers who voted for $242 million in incentives to computer-maker Dell. Dalton had bought $10,000 worth of Dell shares in 1999. The stock value rose after the incentives deal, but Dalton sold it three years later at a loss. Dalton spokeswoman Kimberly Reynolds said the stocks were in a managed account and “daily decisions are made by his financial advisor without input from Sen. Dalton.” She said Dalton has long supported measures he believes will create jobs. Reynolds said Pittenger is “insinuating that Senator Dalton took votes due to outside influence and that is absolutely not true.”

Is the ad accurate?

The votes are accurate. But the implication that Dalton voted because of family ties or personal benefit is subjective. Jim Morrill

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