RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — National Republicans have aimed yet another attack ad at Democratic candidate for Congress Wiley Nickel.
Two weeks after the National Republican Congressional Committee accused him of defending domestic abusers and sex offenders in his law practice, the committee debuted another TV ad that paints him as being soft on crime.
In a tight race that could help decide which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, Nickel, a state Senator, is running against Republican political novice Bo Hines in the race to represent North Carolina’s redrawn 13th district. It includes Johnston County along with parts of Harnett, Wake and Wayne counties.
The narrator in the ad says Nickel “vowed to go easy on criminals, wants to end cash bail, putting violent criminals back on the street” and later adds that Nickel “even voted against funding law enforcement — defunding the police.”
In response, the Nickel campaign called the ad “misleading.”
“Here’s the truth: I’ve never voted to defund the police, and I never will,” Nickel said in the statement.
There are two key claims in the ad to examine.
The ad cites a headline from August in the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing publication backed by Republican Paul Singer. The story accuses Nickel of partnering with a liberal group working to defund police departments and end cash bail.
It has to do with a pledge signed years ago by Nickel and hundreds of other lawmakers across the country by Future Now, a group affiliated with the Democrats that works to get progressives elected.
The pledge to “achieve America’s goals” was part of a previous CBS 17 News fact check that spotlighted a race for a state senate seat.
Internet archive searches showed Nickel signed the pledge at some point between January and November 2019 — well before the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin turned the phrase “defund the police” into a rallying cry and a hot-button issue for political campaigns.
The version of the pledge Nickel signed includes provisions about jobs, healthcare, infrastructure, education, green initiatives and limiting special interests — but nothing about spending on law enforcement.
The closest thing to that is a listed aim to “end mass incarceration” and a “freedom from ethnic and racial profiling for everyone.”
A different version of that website does advocate for “reinvesting policing savings” and to “invest police savings in proven youth, health, employment and housing programs that make communities safer.”
But that website (www.americasgoals.org) is no longer active and redirects visitors to another site under the Future Now umbrella.
A screenshot of the old version appears on the website of Republican House Speaker Tim Moore’s campaign. Moore had accused the state Democrats who signed the bill of promising to defund the police.
There’s another claim in the ad — that Nickel voted against police spending.
Nickel was one of eight state senators, all Democrats, to vote against it.
What was the reason for his vote?
The campaign says it’s because he opposed the provision that eliminates the corporate income tax by 2030, saying it will “cripple North Carolina’s ability to fund critical public safety programs for years to come.”