THE ARM of the Democratic Party charged with keeping its majority hold over Congress is making its move in the nationally targeted race between freshman Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican challenger Dean Andal, a former assemblyman.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently sent out five anti-Andal mailers. Campaign reports show the group had spent almost $100,000 as of last week.

Andal, on his own campaign's dime, has sent out just one mailer and the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee had plunked down only $5,000.

Campaign mailers are typically a mix of truths, omissions and distortions and these are no exception.

Here's a fact-check of some of the contents of the six mailers:

  • What it says: "Andal voted against a bill to expand the legal definition of rape to include situations where a woman is drugged and unable to resist her attacker."

    Is it true? Yes, but Andal says it's an error.

    The bill allowed prosecutors to pursue legal rape charges in cases where the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. (Gov. Pete Wilson signed it into law in 1994.)

    Andal voted yes when the bill came to the Assembly floor the first time. It subsequently went to the Senate, where it passed with minor amendments.

    When the amended bill returned to the Assembly, Andal was absent and the record shows he later added his "no" vote.


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    The "no" vote was clearly an error, either on the assemblyman's part or that of a clerk, Andal spokesman Richard Temple said.

    "Dean had already supported this legislation and he has a record of supporting legislation that strengthened rape laws," Temple said. "It was a mistake. No one else in either party voted no. There is no reason why he would have voted no."

  • What it says: "(Andal) even voted in favor of requiring female employees to wear skirts."

    Is it true? Yes. In 1994, Andal voted against AB3672, which stripped employers of the ability to prohibit females from wearing slacks to work.

    The bill failed but the language was later folded into another bill, which Andal also opposed, and Gov. Pete Wilson signed it into law.

    Andal spokesman Temple correctly points out that the Assemblyman never voted to require all California women to wear skirts on the job.

    Instead, Andal sided with business interests who said the law would interfere with employers' rights to establish dress codes for men and women.

    But for some women whose employers clung to sexist work attire notions, Andal's position amounted to a skirt mandate.

  • What it says: "Andal supported tax breaks for gas and electric utilities ... that gave him campaign contributions, gifts and meals."

    Is it true? Yes. While Andal served on the Board of Equalization from 1994 to 2002, he voted in favor of a policy that resulted in lower property assessments for utilities, telecommunications, pipeline and railroad companies.

    A subsequent press account in 2000 reported that Andal had received $52,500 in campaign contributions since 1994 from Tax PAC, a political action committee whose members included electric utilities that benefitted from the reductions.

    Pacific Telesis Group, acquired by SBC and later merged with AT&T, gave him Kings basketball tickets valued at $515 on six occasions during this period.

    Andal spokesman Temple disputes the description of the board's action. The board voted to maintain an existing assessment formula, Temple said, rather than adopt changes that would have raised assessments and potentially increased consumers' bills.

    As for the gifts, they were legal and fully disclosed, Temple said.

    And finally, from Andal's mailer:

  • What it says: "Instead of taking action to fix America's energy crisis, ruling Democrats shut down Congress this month (August) for a five-week vacation — with Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney casting the deciding vote to adjourn."

    Is it true? No. The vote was 213-212 in favor of adjournment. Under Andal's argument, all 213 members of Congress who voted in favor of the annual summer break were the "deciding vote."

    Besides, party leaders don't let freshmen decide anything.

    GOT POLITICS? See Inside Politics at www.ibabuzz.com/insidepolitics for the week's political happenings.

    AND FINALLY. GOP congressional candidate Nick Gerber of Moraga apparently didn't get that memo about California's largely unenforced robocall ban.

    Someone filed a complaint online with the National Political Do Not Contact Registry — which has no legal standing — about two automated campaign calls he received from Gerber.

    "Found his Web site and sent e-mail to his wife," the unnamed person wrote. "(I) said I was reporting them to Do Not Call."

    Unfortunately, Do Not Call does not care — it restricts commercial, not political calls.

    In fact, given the popularity of political robocalls and the threat of a major legal fight over free speech, Gerber's wife may be this aggrieved resident's most sympathetic ear.

    Lisa Vorderbrueggen covers politics. Reach her at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com or www.ibabuzz.com/insidepolitics.