(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Former Nevada governor and state Republican Committeeman Bob List yesterday called on Sen. Harry Reid to stop running a television ad claiming to have saved a school teacher’s job with federal stimulus funds.
List, in a conference call with media representatives, said the ad is false and attempts to divert attention from Reid’s failure to help bring Nevada out of a major recession.
“He didn’t save her job at all,” List said. “That is a false statement. He should acknowledge it and the ad should come down.”
Reid should focus on Nevada’s record high and nation-leading unemployment rate, which hit 14.2 percent in June, List said.
“The reality is, since the stimulus package was adopted on Feb. 18 of last year, 60,000 additional people in the private sector have lost their jobs in Nevada,” he said. “We now have nearly 200,000 people out of work here and you’d think that he might be addressing that problem instead of making a false claim and a boast of saving this teacher’s job when in fact he didn’t.”
The Reid campaign rejected List’s claims as uninformed and questioned GOP challenger Sharron Angle’s commitment to education.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday published a story about the ad, saying the teacher in question did not have her job saved from the stimulus funding approved by Congress and the President last year because the school at which she worked did not receive any recovery money.
The 30-second ad shows Ronzone Elementary School teacher Bridget Zick of Las Vegas talking about the fear of losing her job and how Reid saved Nevada teaching jobs.
The story prompted a strong response from Reid campaign spokesman Jon Summers, who criticized the Review-Journal story for being, “erroneous and reckless.”
The claim that the school didn’t get any recovery funds, “fundamentally misunderstands the nature of disbursement of the stimulus dollars and the way educators’ jobs were saved,” he said.
“The reality is that stimulus funds were distributed by district, and the Clark County School District received funds that saved an estimated 1,400 jobs,” Summers said.
Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said: “We stand by the fairness of our news reporting.”
List defended the Review-Journal story as accurate and said it is Reid who has historically over time distorted facts and misrepresented reality.
Assemblyman Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, also weighed in on the dispute as a member of the Ways and Means Committee and former president of the Nevada State PTA.
“What is missing from this discussion is this: If we hadn’t received the federal stimulus funds we had three choices left, which was fire 3,500 teachers, raise taxes, or a combination of the two,” he said. “It really is that simple. The funds Nevada received avoided a huge layoff, or an equally huge tax increase. Whether Bridget Zick would have been one of the 3,500 would not have mattered to the parents whose children were no longer being taught by 3,499 other teachers.”
Reid campaign spokesman Kelly Steele said in response to List’s comments: “It’s simply irrefutable that 3,500 education workers weren’t laid off because of stimulus funding that Sen. Reid was instrumental in securing.
“The fact that Mr. List appears to have even less understanding of how stimulus funds are distributed than the shoddy journalism he cites in the Review-Journal is disappointing, but not surprising since he’s advocating for Sharron Angle, who opposes all public education funding and believes we should abolish the Department of Education.”
List said Reid should focus on Nevada’s record-setting unemployment rate.
False claims by Reid aren’t helping, he said.
“This guy would take credit for the fact that Hoover Dam hasn’t washed out if he thought he could get away with it,” List said.
Reid is locked in a battle with Angle in his bid for another term in the Senate. The race is one of the mostly closely watched contests in the nation.