Throughout the 2012 political season, 9NEWS will hold those who run political ads on our networks accountable for what they say. Check out previous Truth Tests here.
Watch the anti-Miklosi ad discussed in this Truth Test below:
The ad comes from Rep. Mike Coffman's (R-Colorado) re-election campaign and aims to portray his opponents Joe Miklosi (D) as soft on child predators.
CLAIM: 258,000 children are abducted in America every year.
This rather-shocking figure is used to set up an argument about child predators, which makes it pretty misleading: 258,000 abductions would amount to almost one abduction every two minutes.
Abductions by child predators are relatively rare, making big news when they happen.
The figures come from a 2002 U.S. Justice Department report on missing children, which is explained in this FAQ from the Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://bit.ly/9zgmq.
About 200,000 of the 258,000 cases are abductions by family members. Of course, these can be serious incidents, but the data show that very few involve the use of force or a threat.
A better number for the Coffman campaign to use would have been the other 58,000 cases - which are abductions by non-family members. Those cases vary in seriousness. They can be anything from a disgruntled babysitter who won't return the kids to a rapist assaulting a child in a camper van.
Only 115 annual cases are what the justice department calls "stereotypical kidnappings," which are described this way:
"These crimes involve someone the child does not know or a slight acquaintance who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently."
By using the much larger number of 258,000 cases, the Coffman campaign ad is sensationalizing a sensitive topic in order to launch a political argument about a vote Joe Miklosi took as a state legislator.
CLAIM: When concerned parents pushed the state of Colorado to pass mandatory sentences for child predators, it failed by just four votes, including Joe Miklosi's vote. Joe Miklosi cast one of the deciding votes against Jessica's law.
Verdict: This claim needs context.
In 2009, a group of Colorado state lawmakers introduced a bill modeled after a measure in Florida known as "Jessica's Law." It would have imposed mandatory minimum sentence is child sexual-assault cases.
The bill died in committee, but its supporters attempted to resurrect it by amending their sentencing proposal onto another bill that toughened penalties against internet predators.
Miklosi's campaign says he voted against the amendment because it threatened to cause the Internet-predator bill to fail.
The "Jessica's Law" provision was controversial because it came with a hefty price tag of $18 million a year: http://bit.ly/R8oFiG.
There was also controversy over the need for the mandatory minimum sentences because under existing Colorado law, many sexual predators were already receiving life sentences.
BOTTOM LINE: This ad blows numbers out of proportion and oversimplifies Miklosi's voting record on the issue.
(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)