in

Super PAC ad misleadingly alters Utah candidate’s comments on Republican base

In television commercials and on social networks, Club for Growth Action misleadingly edited remarks by Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin of Utah to make it look like he said “the Republican base is racist”.

In fact, McMullin said “there is an element of the Republican base that is racist” and that the party leaders will not resist them for fear of losing votes. McMullin made his remarks to CNN the day after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Club for Growth Actiona super PAC that says its objective is to “take back control of the U.S. House and Senate from the Liberal Democrats,” the ad launches in the surprisingly tight Senate race in Utah between McMullin, who is unaffiliated with no party, and Republican Senator Mike Lee. There is no Democratic candidate on the ballot.

The ad, titled “Charlatan,” includes a TV clip of McMullin apparently saying “the Republican base is racist – those fanatics” on CNN. The ad, which began running on TV and Facebook in late September, received more than 11,000 views on Facebook and 16,000 on Youtube.

The announcement altered portions of McMullin’s comments during a August 12, 2017, roundtable on CNN on the Charlottesville Rally and former Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe message to white nationalists that there is “no place for you in America”. One person was killed and dozens injured when James Fields, a neo-Nazi sympathizer, drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at the rally.

In his full comments, McMullin — a former CIA operative who quit the Republican Party and ran for president as an independent in 2016 — had this to say about Republicans and race:

McMullin, August 12, 2017: The reason they don’t and I know this because I’ve been a part of it, I’ve seen it myself, is there’s a taboo within the Republican Party on attack of racism in America, and I know that’s the case because when you do that as a conservative, you’re attacked by elements within the party, and that’s where we are, and all Republicans , of course, are not racist. I was raised by Republicans who aren’t at all and who welcome Americans from all walks of life and who aren’t like that at all, but there is an element of the Republican base that is racist, and our leaders are afraid to stand up to them because if they do they will be criticized and potentially lose votes. And so they don’t, but it’s not public service. It’s self-serve, and we need leaders, especially on the Republican and Conservative side these days, who will serve the country, and serving the country means standing up to these fanatics.

McMullin filed a court case on October 4 against Club for Growth Action and three stations that aired the ad, seeking “damages for gross and prejudicial dishonesty in the context of political campaigning.”

The lawsuit said that of the four stations mentioned in the lawsuit – ABC 4, Fox 13, KUTV and KSL—oOnly KSL pulled the ad.

“Mr. McMullin never said that,” the lawsuit said. “To the contrary, his public work has been centered on winning the trust of Republicans and conservatives in this state and across the country. Mr. McMullin does not stand by the sentiment wrongly put in his mouth by the defendants and has never expressed that view.

We contacted the Club for Growth Action about the allegations in the ad, but received no response.

Club for Growth Action said October 14 Press release that McMullin uses the “judicial system to censor political speech”.

In an earlier Oct. 7 press release, the super PAC expressed surprise at McMullin’s lawsuit, saying the candidate “regularly relies on brackets and ellipses to revise quotes when making his own points.” policies”. The group claimed that they used a “similar” technique when “cleaning up McMullin’s quote from ‘there is an element of the Republican base that is racist’ to ‘the Republican base is racist’.”

David McIntosh, president of the Club for Growth Action, said in the Oct. 7 press release, “McMullin’s complaint is a transparent attempt to censor the Club for Growth Action and Utah television stations. We believe this is not a situation where a television station should interfere with public debate that is healthy for our democracy, especially given McMullin’s voluminous, relentless, and public criticism of Republicans.

McMullin, who trails Lee by only four points in a recent poll, said he would not chat with Democrats or Republicans if elected.


Editor’s note: FactCheck.org does not accept advertising. We rely on grants and individual donations from people like you. Please consider a donation. Credit card donations can be made through our “Make a donation” page. If you prefer to give by check, send it to: FactCheck.org, Annenberg Public Policy Center, 202 S. 36th St., Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Post expires at 8:10pm on Monday October 31st, 2022