Fact Check: Ad attacks politician Miller's 'High Life' - 8 News NOW

Fact Check: Ad attacks politician Miller's 'High Life'

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Political Ad Fact Checker

An advertisement paid for by the State Government Leadership Foundation, a Republican-leaning conservative advocacy group from Virginia, features an announcer who says: "Ross Miller's traveling the globe on someone else's nickel. Fancy parties, exclusive sporting events, posing with celebrities, even playmates. Ah, one can dream. But for politician Ross Miller it's reality. Miller took $60,000 in gifts and travel from special interests on top of his six-figure salary. He lives the life. You pay the tab. Tell Ross Miller to stop living the high life at your expense." The video, posted a few weeks ago on YouTube as "Ross Miller's House of Cards," includes a montage of Miller photos with the likes of model Holly Madison and boxer Mike Tyson.

What's True: Miller is Nevada's secretary of state and Democratic candidate for attorney general, though neither position is mentioned in the ad. He reported roughly $72,325 in gifts for 2008 through 2013 on financial disclosure statements filed with his office. The largest sums included separate $12,480 and $9,360 gifts from business networking organization Vistage for CEO leadership group sponsorship; $6,715 from Taiwan as part of a delegation of secretaries of state to that Asian nation; $5,390 from the Milken Institute for a Milken Global Conference; and $3,000 for tickets to the Ultimate Fighting Championship series.

Smaller sums included tickets for Major League Baseball and for college football involving the University of Nevada, Reno. The gifts were in addition to his salary, which he listed as $102,898 in his latest disclosure. The ad photos include snapshots from Miller's Instagram page.

What's A Stretch: Nevada politicians attending parties and posing with celebrities are hardly novel, regardless of party affiliation. A minor point is that Madison was not a Playboy Playmate. However, she was a girlfriend of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, appeared in the men's magazine and also on a reality television show centered on Hefner's girlfriends. A larger, more serious falsehood is the accusation that Miller is "living the high life at your expense." Taxpayers aren't picking up the tab on Miller's lifestyle. All his gifts were not only legal under state law, but they were also legally disclosed by Miller, following the provision that all gifts exceeding $200 must be listed.

Politicians who accept even legal gifts leave themselves open to criticism and Miller is no exception, disclosure notwithstanding. The irony here is that the ad was paid for by a tax-exempt social welfare organization whose directors have included former Republican Virginia Attorney General Jerry Kilgore. Kilgore, according to the Washington Post, is representing a businessman at the center of one of the nation's biggest ongoing political scandals -- the indictment of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife. The McDonnells were charged in January with illegally accepting gifts, loans and vacations in exchange for political favors on behalf of Kilgore client Jonnie Williams Sr.

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