MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — National Democrats are spending more than a $1 million on television campaign ads taunting Republican congressional candidate Stewart Mills.
It’s a signal that Democrats take first-time candidate Mills seriously in northern Minnesota’s Eighth District race against incumbent Congressman Rick Nolan.
In one ad, there’s a Mills look-a-like wearing deck shoes on an expensive boat, chilling champagne and grilling lobster tails.
“Stewart Mills III caught a big inheritance and a job at the family business that pays half a million a year,” the ad says.
Both ads mock him for fussing with his long hair, over and over.
“It costs a lot to get this look,” says the ad, which shows Mills arranging his hair 11 times in 30 seconds.
And the Democrats take the taunting to a new level. He’s not referred to as Stewart Mills, but as Stewart Mills “the third” — the stereotype of a TV-sitcom rich guy, like Thurston Howell III on “Gilligan’s Island.”
The ad accurately points out Mills’ wealth. He is an heir to the popular chain of Mills Fleet Farm outdoors stores.
His net worth is at least $39 million, according to campaign financial disclosure statements. His 2013 salary was $568,329.
But here’s where the ads get vague.
“Mills opposed tax cuts for the middle class even as he wants to give another huge tax break to millionaires like himself,” the ad says.
The ad doesn’t say what “middle class” tax cuts Mills opposes, or what tax breaks for millionaires he favors.
That makes this ad more than a just personal attack — it’s misleading.
Both ads are unusual for their mocking tone and the attack on Mills’ wealth, but it doesn’t always work.
Roll Call reports that in 2012, eight freshmen joined a list of the 50 richest members of Congress, with a minimum net worth between $9 million and $68 million.
Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check: