VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s politics season ahead of the November General Election. That brings out the 10 On Your Side’s Truth Tracker, where we put political commercials to the truth test.
We are tracking the truth in a commercial for the 83rd House of Delegates race representing parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
The commercial is authorized by Democratic Del. Nancy Guy against her Republican opponent Tim Anderson.
“This is anything but normal, but not to Tim Anderson, the guy who wants to represent us in Richmond,” says the ad, which is full of video from the rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Guy said she believes the ad is fair.
“I find his rhetoric and behavior vaguely threatening, and I think it is fair game for us to show that,” she said, referring to Facebook posts shown in the ad.
The Truth Tracker finds that true that political commercials using Facebook posts can be fair game.
“So, to tie me with that is misleading,” said Anderson, referring to video of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Anderson was not there.
The commercial continues: “He called the Capitol rioters ‘Normal, good, and patriotic Americans.’”
The Truth Tracker finds that false.
According to that Anderson quote in the Washington Post, he was referring only to his own client, Joshua Bustle, and his wife. His client was seen on video from Jan. 6 at the Capitol.
He said Joshua Bustle got caught up in the moment and broke minor laws. He was not part of the group of insurrectionists who intended to actually disrupt congressional proceedings, Anderson said.
We asked Anderson what his client did.
“When the breach happened, they walked into the Capitol, and they looked around and then they left,” he said.
The ad fails to note that.
It is true that Anderson did not condone what his client and others did, telling the Washington Post in that same article “The law is the law, and if you violate it, you must be held accountable.” That part of his statement was not mentioned in the ad.
The Bustles would plead guilty to unlawful picketing and be sentenced to home confinement.
“Those who normalize, condone and defend what happened on January 6 are dangerous to our democracy,” Guy said.
However, Anderson counters that his clients don’t define who he is.
“I am a criminal defense attorney, and I’ve represented a lot of bad people, but I don’t adopt their criminal behavior because I am a criminal defense lawyer,” he said.
To that point, Nancy Guy had a response.
“Everybody deserves representation, but you don’t have to choose to represent everybody,” she said.
It is the first time Truth Tracker has tracked an ad that involved a fully lit flame torch.
Guy pulled video from Anderson’s Facebook page to use in the ad.
“I mean, come on. The man goes around using a flamethrower as a prop in his own political ad,” she said.
Guy’s ad also pulled a clip from Anderson’s Facebook page where Anderson is reading off a list of Democratic policies written on a cardboard sign.
“No Voter ID, critical race theories on the horizon, they try to defund the police,” Anderson reads.
Anderson wrote down what he calls the “liberal political agenda” in Richmond, which he says Guy supports.
Anderson then raises the flame torch, lights it, then burns up the sign.
“We’re going to take that liberal agenda and we are going to do this to it,” and then Anderson makes a sound of excitement, “Whooooo.”
Guy jumps on that.
“I think the point is he thinks a flamethrower is an appropriate political prop, and somehow, he thinks a flamethrower is a solution to what he is trying to do, and what we are trying to convey is that level of belief of weaponizing politics and rhetoric,” Guy said.
It is also true Anderson has made some enemies in Richmond. He has been involved as an attorney in several cases involving elected bodies of government and elected officials including Sen. Amanda Chase who was sanctioned by the state Senate after she attended that Donald Trump rally on Jan. 6. She only went to the Washington Mall, and never went to the U.S. Capitol.
“That was outrageous and in total violation of her right to free speech, but that is my job to represent people,” Anderson said.