MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new ad from U.S. Senator Al Franken accuses his Republican challenger Mike McFadden of helping shut down a Montana paper mill, and costing workers hundreds of jobs.
It’s an allegation McFadden denies.
The international paper mill company Smurfit Stone declared bankruptcy in 2009.
The company shut down its paper mill in Frenchtown, Montana and 417 workers lost their jobs.
But the Franken campaign cannot provide solid evidence that McFadden’s company participated in the shutdown.
Franken’s campaign provided a Politico story as proof. That story lists other media reports linking Lazard Middle Market to the layoffs. WCCO was unable to find any of those reports referenced in the Politico report, nor could Franken’s campaign.
“The undisputed fact is that Mike McFadden’s company took credit for the deal until our ad criticized him for it,” said Alexandra Fetissoff, Franken campaign spokesperson. “The press wrote about the deal 18 months ago. McFadden didn’t correct the stories. And his company didn’t take it off their website. Minnesotans deserve to know: were they telling the truth then or are they telling the truth now?”
However, neither one specifically names McFadden’s company: Lazard Middle Market.
And there is still one question that hasn’t been answered, was Lazard Middle Market involved?
Lazard Middle Market highlighted the Smurfit Stone restructuring deal on its website.
The Franken campaign accurately states that it was removed from the LMM website after Franken’s ad began running.
We made numerous attempts to contact Lazard to find out why that happened, but the company did not respond.
We also reviewed hundreds of pages of Smurfit Stone court bankruptcy documents.
They mention McFadden’s parent company, Lazard Freres, but not Lazard Middle Market.
Based on the evidence provided by the Franken campaign, on a scale from true to false this ad is mostly false.
That’s Reality Check.
Here are some of the sources we used for this Reality Check:
Franken Ad “Wasteland”
Smurfit Stone: Twin Cities Business Journal
Smurfit Stone: McFadden Politico
Bankruptcy Documents: Smurfit Stone