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Fact-checking an attack ad's claims against candidate for Oregon's newest House district

An ad bankrolled in part by Mike Erickson's campaign paints Salinas as someone who never met a tax increase she didn't like.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Editor's note: According to the Oregon Legislature's website, Andrea Salinas voted for HB 3055 in 2021, which, among other things, creates a tolling program from the Portland metro area to Wilsonville along I-205. 

On Monday night, KGW fact-checked an ad attacking Republican Mike Erickson, who is running against Democrat Andrea Salinas for the U.S. House seat in Oregon's newly created 6th Congressional District. The race has gotten heated, with Erickson suing his opponent for that particular ad, which accused him of being charged with felony drug possession.

But turnabout is fair play — now we're fact-checking an ad paid for by Erickson's campaign and Republicans' national congressional campaign which paints Salinas as a Democrat who loves nothing more than tax hikes.


Has Andrea Salinas supported higher taxes and new tolls on the working class?




This needs context.

The ad begins by taking aim at Democrats already holding federal office, so we'll start there.

"Record inflation – gas and groceries have all gone up and Biden and Pelosi passed a tax hike that will take $3 billion from the working class making $75 thousand or less," the ad voiceover says. "It's too much."

The opening line refers to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The citation in Erickson's ad points to a document from the Joint Committee on Taxation dated July 29. The table in that document indicates that under the act there are slight changes in income tax at $75 thousand and below that produce an increase in revenue for the federal government of about $3 billion.

The VERIFY team actually looked at this particular claim in August. The table stems from a proposed amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act brought by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

Crapo’s office acknowledged that there are no direct increases on personal income tax rates included in the Inflation Reduction Act. Instead, a projected $20 billion in IRS revenue would stem from “increased IRS enforcement,” a spokesperson for Crapo wrote in an email to VERIFY.

If the analysis commissioned by Crapo is accurate, then some downstream IRS revenue will increase — but even Crapo had to admit that the act does not include a "tax hike" on the working class, as the ad claims.

"Andrea Salinas wants the same in Oregon," the ad continues. "Salinas voted for the largest tax increase in state history."

This line refers to a bill referred to as the "Student Success Act," HB 3427. It was passed by Oregon lawmakers in 2019 and establishes a corporate activity tax, charging businesses on the money they make in Oregon above the first $1 million per year.

The tax is big in that it's expected to generate more than $1 billion per year for schools, although its launch was hampered by the pandemic.

From the Oregon Legislature's revenue impact estimation, the tax could actually bring in $2.3 billion for schools every two years. We were unable to verify if that is the largest tax increase in Oregon history, but it's not an unreasonable claim.

Salinas, a Democrat in the Oregon House of Representatives at the time, did vote in favor of the bill — along with every other Democrat in the House. Every Republican voted against.

The ad, then, is relatively accurate in this claim, though it lacks the context that this tax was levied on businesses, not individual taxpayers.

"Now she wants a $5 toll between Wilsonville and Salem," the ad continues.

This claim was confusing for two reasons — first, the citation shown on the screen was the same they used for HB 3427. There's nothing in the bill that has to do with tolling. Looking at the newspaper that the ad cited, there is nothing in the Daily Astorian to show that Salinas supported tolling.

On the contrary, we found a letter dated last March and addressed to Oregon's federal lawmakers that asks for help in slowing down a proposed toll on Interstate 205.

The letter is from a group of Clackamas County lawmakers, including Salinas. They wrote that they have concerns about the plan, in which they say the Oregon Department of Transportation intends to toll I-205 ahead of the rest of the metro area. The lawmakers write that this will cause congestion on side streets, bringing more danger and expense for their citizens. They say that they are united in opposition to the tolling plan.

Salinas signed onto the letter opposing this tolling plan, and we couldn't find anything to suggest that she's since become a big proponent. This last claim, as far as we can tell, is false.

The Story takes on attack ads:

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