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I received a misleading political ad in the mail today, saying a State Representative voted to defund the police

September 2, 2020

One of the things I hate about election cycles are the constant barrage of political ads, most of which are filled with half-truths, misinformation or outright lies.

The irony of political ads is that most of the campaign money, money that candidates or Political Action Committee (PACs) will raise during an election cycle, is used for the production and distribution of political ads. This ultimately results in the public being more confused and misinformed about candidates, but it also means that media companies will make a shit ton of money.

I received a misleading attack in my mailbox today, a mailer that was attacking State Representative Rachel Hood. Here is the front side of the ad, which has a picture of Rep. Hood, the image of a burning car, with the text that reads: Rachel Hood is too dangerous for Grand Rapids. Rachel Hood voted to defund local police departments.

On the mailing address side of this political ad, it also includes a picture of Rep. Hood, a picture of what appears to be an image from the May 30th uprising in downtown Grand Rapids and another picture of graffiti which says, More Dead Cops, accompanied by the letter A, which is associated with anarchism. On this side of the ad, the organization putting out the political message encourages people to called Rep. Hood, because she voted NO on HR 277, and with this addition text – Rachel Hood sided with Grand Rapids rioters as they destroyed property, looted small businesses, and attacked police officers when she voted to defund local police department.

First, it is important to look at what HR 277 actually says and doesn’t say. HR 277 was introduced by Rep. Ryan Berman from the 39th House District (Wixom). Berman’s resolution is brief (2 pages) and it is primarily an attack against the movement to Defund Police Departments, with lots of language that supports the police, referring to police departments as “a cornerstone of a safe and prosperous society.”

Next, it is important to point out that while Rep. Hood voted against HR 277, it passed 72 – 29. It is equally important to point out that voting NO on HR 277 doesn’t mean that those who voted against this legislation are in favor of defunding. In fact, HR 277 is primarily a symbolic statement and has little to no legal bearing, since local municipalities get to decide on whether or not they have a police department and how much to fund them.

Third, I have not come across any statement or positions that Rep. Hood has taken to suggest that she supports the defunding of police departments. The only thing on her re-election website that says anything about policing is on the section of the page that is headlined “values” and says, “Reshape criminal justice & policing.” 

Lastly, the misinforming mailer was sent from a PO Box address in Lansing and was paid for by MI Vision. I could find not reference to MI Vision, which suggests that it is a dark money group, since the political ad I received doesn’t tell me how to vote, which means that they avoid Michigan’s state-level campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Ultimately, this political ad is hoping to tap into people’s fears about the May 30th riot in Grand Rapids and the possibility of defunding the GRPD. Suggesting that Rep. Hood supports the defunding of the GRPD, although false, might be enough to get people to vote against her.

Editor’s note: I called Rep Hood about the mailer, but only was able to leave a message. As of this writing no one from that office has responded.

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