Dueling attack ads in tight Congressional District 7 race fail 'truth test'

In the brutally contested, toss-up battle to represent much of west Houston in Congress, Republican John Culberson and his Democratic challenger Lizzie Fletcher both claim to be the victim of lies perpetrated by their opponent over the airwaves.

As it turns out, they are both right.

For instance, incumbent U.S. Rep. Culberson claims in a spot entitled "Orders" that Fletcher advocates single payer, government-funded medical care, citing a clip from a debate during the spring primary in which his opponent can be heard saying, "We need universal health care."

"I have been saying from day one of this election that I think we need to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and that I am not for a complete government takeover of health care," said Fletcher to FOX 26 News.

Separating truth from falsehood in meticulous, non-partisan fashion earned fact-checking advocate Politifact the Pulitzer Prize.

Politifact determined the Culberson "Orders" ad claim is based on an incomplete sound clip taken out of context and manipulated to mislead voters, earning a grade of "false." 

That said, it appears Fletcher has clearly played fast-and-loose with the facts herself.

In an ad called "My House," residents of Congressional District 7 holding up signs say, "He got 680 million dollars for a telescope in South America but Culberson voted against funding to fix dams in Texas."

Culberson, who chairs the powerful appropriations subcommittee for Commerce, Justice and Science says his Democratic challenger blatantly withheld the real truth about both the telescope and the dams.

"National Science Foundation money can only be spent on National Science Foundation projects and not flood control," said Culberson. "My opponent was complaining that I voted against a bill that would have helped Addicks and Barker reservoir, when in fact, if you just read the bill, it specifically excludes federal dams like Addicks and Barker."

Politifact determined Culberson is right on both counts — the telescope money truly couldn't be used for flood control and the bill the Congressman opposed wouldn't have bolstered the critical Houston-area dams.

As a result, Fletcher's spot was tagged "mostly false."