Inactive, partisan CPA does Pawlenty's accounting

Given recent controversies over partisans posing as independents (the paid Kennedy consultant who runs Minnesota Democrats Exposed), bloggers feeding the results of their computer sleuthing to campaigns (Noah Kunin), and an inactive CPA touting his credentials (Mark Kennedy), the star of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's newest ad is a surprising choice--an active GOP partisan, former GOP candidate, and a CPA whose license is inactive.

In the commercial John Heutmaker--"Accountant, Bloomington, MN"--says, "I'm not being paid to say this. I'm not an actor, I'm an accountant." While this line suggests that he's merely a concerned citizen coming forward out of moral duty, the fact is he's a former Republican candidate (he got just under 6% of the vote in the 2004 primary for state senate district 41B). And, according to the Minnesota Board of Accountancy, Heutmaker's CPA license is inactive, which means he cannot legally work as an accountant or bill himself as a certified CPA.

As the camera pans across a computer monitor showing a spreadsheet with a dazzling number of digits and dollar signs, he says, "I checked the numbers" and discovered that Mike Hatch wants to spend "6.4 billion dollars or more" on new projects: "That's extra money the state doesn't have, so they'll have to come to us for a tax hike." How much does Heutmaker say it'll cost taxpayers? $2,192 per family.

The header on Heutmaker's on-screen spreadsheet starts out "Hatch promises...," but as the AP reports, Hatch hasn't committed to all the programs Heutmaker is likely tallying. Further, Heutmaker's accountancy is pretty iffy: "He gives a four-year total of programs that Hatch has mentioned [...] and divides the cost by the number of households to come up with a tax burden."

What do you think? Deceptive or fair? Effective or another ho-hum political ad?

adMN is an ongoing review of communications created to shape Minnesota's campaigns and culture.

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