In the flurry of discussion about the new hot Oregon TV spot, one key point should be brought central: There seems to be no evidence that the problems it cites are in any way real.
This isn't true of most TV political ads, which generally cite evidence (maybe in the form of news stories) where specific allegations are made. Ron Saxton, the Republican challenger to Democratic Governor Ted Kulongoski, has typically done this too, as on his ad about Kulongoski and taxes.
Not so on his new ad, now in heavy rotation, on illegal immigrants. There have at least been some past reports (one, as cited, in the Oregonian) suggesting - using statistical estimates, of course, not a census - that the number of illegals immigrants in Oregon is about 175,000. Of course, no one - no one - really knows if that's an accurate number. The Saxton ad cites it as established fact.
Then: "Under Governor Ted Kulongoski, Oregon gives drivers licenses to illegal aliens who use them to get state services and even vote. This costs Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars every year. Ron Saxton believes that illegal means illegal."
On the latter point, actually, so does Kulongoski, who has said his administration enforces the law against unauthorized immigration as best it can. Beyond that are some specific allegations: that illegals actually obtain drivers licenses; that they use them to obtain services; (implicitly at least) that they vote; and that this costs the taxpayers of the state millions of dollars annually.
These sound like documentable facts, if true. State officials, including Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, say they're not true. In the Oregonian today, "'I looked at the past 15 years of general elections,' Bradbury said. Of more than 10 million votes cast, only 10 prompted investigation into citizenship, he said, and of those 10, only two were prosecuted."
We've seen in recent reports no rebuttal about the facts of the matter from the saxton campaign. So this morning, we posed the question: "Concerning the current ad on immigration: What are the specifics on illegal immigrants voting or obtaining drivers licenses? The charges have been criticized as unfounded; what foundation do you have for them?"
The campaign responded promptly. In full: "Here is a quote from Sec. Bradbury. This seems to refute his statement to the paper. On Saturday, Secretary of State Bill Bradbury urged participants to take a stand against proof of citizenship and other identification requirements 'designed to reduce participation' in elections. - Salem Statesman Journal, 01/08/06 "
But that's a puzzle: Bradbury seems to be suggesting that the ID proposals have as their real purpose a suppression of voting, a suggestion he would make only if he thought their surface purpose - to keep non-citizens from voting - was not a real problem. It seems consistent with his statements to the Oregonian.
Not much of a response - no facts at all, not even any anecdotes, to demonstrate that illegal aliens have been obtaining drivers licenses, have been getting state services (as, probably, some have), have been voting, or have actually cost Oregon taxpayers a dime.
Maybe, in fact, they have - but so far that's guesswork. Until we see more, we're going to have to assume that on the subject of illegal immigrants, the Saxton campaign is simply making it up because the words "illegal alien" are a hot button in a tight race.