In a new television commercial, John P. McKinney hits his fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate, Tom Foley, for suggesting in an ad that McKinney supported tax, spending and other policies of the Democrat they are trying to unseat, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

“Is he kidding?” McKinney asks, speaking over a Foley ad. “I opposed Dan Malloy’s policies, and he knows it. Tom Foley is just not being honest about my record.”

Well, that’s true – but only to a point.

Foley’s ad was misleading on one key point: By lumping McKinney and Malloy together on a number of issues, it created the misimpression that McKinney voted for Malloy’s tax-and-spending plans.

In fact, McKinney voted against all four Malloy budgets, just as he voted against nearly all tax increases during his 16 years in the state Senate, the last seven as GOP minority leader.

But Foley’s ad also accuses Malloy and McKinney of “pushing failed policies – costing us jobs.” And that is a matter of opinion.

For that claim, Foley points in a footnote to two Malloy bills that McKinney actually did support: one created the “First Five” economic assistance program for major employers; the other ratified a deal extending $400 million in tax credits to United Technologies Corp.

In the new ad, McKinney also doubles down on a claim from his first ad that Foley won’t cut spending and that he is too deferential to the 2011 concession deal negotiated by the Malloy administration.

“The truth is, it’s Tom Foley who won’t cut spending. I will. And it’s Tom Foley who supports Dan Malloy’s sweetheart deal with state union bosses. I don’t,” McKinney says in his ad. “I’m John McKinney. I’m the only candidate willing to target the size of state government.”

The basis for those claims are Foley’s promises to level-fund state government for two years and not seek state employee concessions before the current collective bargaining agreement expires. In 2011, Malloy negotiated a concession package that took two tries to win ratification from the rank and file.

What McKinney calls a “sweetheart deal” required employees to agree to a two-year wage freeze, a higher contribution for their retirement health care and higher premiums and deductibles for anyone refusing to participate in a wellness program. In return, the employees were given a four-year guarantee against layoffs.

McKinney has had his own issues with ethics and advertising. For his first ad, his campaign doctored WNPR audio of Foley to produce a punchy sound bite of Foley saying, “I’m not going to cut spending.”

What Foley actually said was, “I’m not saying I’m going to cut spending; I’m saying I’m going to hold spending flat.”

McKinney’s first ad:

Foley’s responded with this ad:

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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