Spin Check: Stephen Broden Ad
BY Omar Villafranca

What is Spin Check? As part of our coverage of Decision 2010 and the elections that affect Texas, we put political ads to the test.

The Rev. Stephen Broden is still considered an underdog in his race to unseat longtime Dallas Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson.

But he's hoping to sway voters with his first TV ad.

The ad focuses on recent media reports that Johnson steered scholarships from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation to friends and members of her family.

Spin Check: Scholarship Scandal Ad

Spin Check: Scholarship Scandal Ad

Spin Check: Scholarship Scandal Ad

Johnson's Republican opponent, Broden, found a student who could have used one of those scholarships in the ad.

Let's spin check it.

Here's the text of the ad:

I'm Davetta Carter.
I graduated ninth in my class from A. Maceo Smith in Dallas.
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson could have changed my life by giving me a scholarship.
Instead, she gave thousands in scholarships to her family and friends.
Congresswoman Johnson could have helped students like me get the education we need to change our life.
But she gave the money to her family and friends.
Think about that when you go to vote on November second.

The part of the ad that says, "I'm Davetta Carter. I graduated ninth in my class from A. Maceo Smith in Dallas," is TRUE.

We interviewed Davetta Carter at the office of Broden's political consultant. She was at A. Maceo Smith High School from 2003 to 2007. She showed us the letter written on her behalf in 2007 to Johnson's office, asking for financial aid. Johnson wrote back, saying she couldn't help. The letter doesn't encourage Carter to apply for the CBC scholarship or even mention the CBC scholarship.

Carter went to Stephen F. Austin University for three semesters, but said she had to stop going to school when she ran out of money. She said she still owes SFA $1,800. Once she pays off that amount, she can get her transcripts and continue her education.

That part that says Johnson "gave thousands in scholarships to her family and friends" is also TRUE.

Johnson has publicly admitted a mistake was made. In an e-mailed statement, the Johnson campaign said, "The congresswoman has repeatedly said that she takes full responsibility for the errors, and that's why she personally repaid the CBC Foundation the $31,000 -- even though she did not have to. Let me also stress that these were NOT public funds..."

The statement also says, "... she has appointed an independent panel of District 30 community leaders to accept and screen applicants for scholarships and other such grants in the future. The first meeting of that panel was covered by the press."

Johnson's campaign also went on to say, “Congresswoman Johnson has successfully fought for the people of the 30th Congressional District for two almost decades. She has brought millions of dollars in resources to North Texas and has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with President Obama to help make real the true promise of America. Meanwhile, her opponent has spent the last few years cozying up to people like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin and others who want to turn back the clock on the progress that we have made. All the misleading, distracting, mudslinging ads won’t change the fact that he is fundamentally out of touch with the community, and that’s why the people are rejecting his message of division and hate.”

Broden's ad says Johnson "could have helped students like me get the education we need to change our life. But she gave the money to her family and friends."

That's TRUE. Johnson has admitted the error.

But the admission isn't enough for Carter. She said if she had known about the scholarship, she might still be at SFA. As of now, she's a cashier at an office supply store.

Broden told reporters that he's putting together a group of people to help provide scholarships to students in District 30. Broden also said he's continue this scholarship committee no matter the outcome on Nov. 2.

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