POSTED: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 12:00pm
UPDATED: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 12:14pm
AUSTIN, Texas — Honesty, specifically a lack thereof, has emerged as a major theme in the Republican primary runoff for an open U.S. Senate seat the day before what could be the last televised debate between the candidates.
Last week, both Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz have accused each other of deceiving or misleading voters on multiple fronts.
In the latest salvos, Dewhurst charges Cruz of trying to hide details of his work as a lawyer, while Cruz says Dewhurst is covering up past statements that conflict with his current positions.
Dewhurst’s campaign released a new web ad Friday called “What is Ted Cruz Hiding?” The 30-second video focuses on recent news that Cruz is facing a $200 fine for failing to file his personal financial statement on time and says that Cruz performed civil legal work for a Pennsylvania developer embroiled in a judge-bribing scheme known as the “kids for cash” scandal.
Cruz’s campaign blamed the late filing on an administrative error, and he defended his work for developer Robert Mericle as “civil litigation over breach of contract.”
Though the ad focuses on two stories that broke over the last week, Dewhurst has been accusing Cruz of questionable ethics since earlier this month. When asked about Cruz’s descriptions of Dewhurst’s record as “moderate” after a July 6 news conference in Houston, Dewhurst said, “Mr. Cruz hasn’t said one thing that’s true so far in this campaign. … I think the main thing Texans want to have in their United States senator is integrity and honesty. I’m tired of Washington politicians that won’t tell the truth.”
Two days later, nearly every Republican in the Texas Senate released a letter accusing Cruz of spreading “misinformation” about the Senate's accomplishments via his critiques of Dewhurst. Hours later, Cruz refuted the accusations in his own letter to Dewhurst.
The Cruz camp accuses the lieutenant governor of misleading Texans about his previous positions on important issues.
On Tuesday, the Cruz campaign released a new television ad called "Dewhurst Deceives on Payroll Tax." The ad juxtaposed Dewhurst’s declaration at last month’s debate that he never supported a payroll tax with news clippings and a 2005 news release from Dewhurst's office that suggested otherwise. Dewhurst spokesman Matt Hirsch has said allegations that Dewhurst misrepresented his past position are “false and misleading.”
The next day, the Cruz campaign was busy highlighting how Dewhurst’s office had recently removed all of his speeches from his state website — including one from 2007 in which he expressed support for a guest worker program for illegal immigrants. Soon after the story broke, Cruz tweeted, “@DavidHDewhurst makes false attacks on me about amnesty while he tries to hide his record of supporting it.”
Dewhurst’s campaign said the “archiving” of speeches was routine and not done to hide Dewhurst’s statements.
Cruz spokesman James Bernsen said the episode is part of a "consistent pattern of deceiving Texas voters."
"Dewhurst has lost all credibility," Bernsen said.
The two candidates will face each other in person Tuesday at a televised debate hosted by WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas. There are no other televised events featuring both men scheduled for before the July 31 runoff.