Who is the more fiscally responsible candidate for Congress in the Sixth District?
That's the question at the heart of new ads from DFLer Tarryl Clark and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann today.
Clark is accusing Bachmann of being too loose with taxpayer dollars during tough times. Bachmann, meanwhile, is highlighting Clark's tie-breaking vote in the Legislature this May to raise taxes.
Clark's new ad came with a challenge. The state senator is asking Bachmann to cut her salary by 5 percent and reduce her office expenses. Clark said she cut her own per diem pay and budget when the economy soured in 2008.
Bachmann's campaign is crying foul, however, noting that Clark voted to raise the per diem pay for legislators only a year earlier and did not support an amendment to lower their compensation. Bachmann spokesman Sergio Gor said they are not "addressing" Clark's challenge.
Regarding official expenses, Clark said campaign funds -- not taxpayer dollars -- should pay for mass constituent mailings. "If you want to be promoting yourself, fine. But do it on the campaign side," Clark told reporters at the Capitol.
Almost every member of Congress spends public money on "franked mail" to update constituents, though the mailings have sometimes been scrutinized for being overly extravagant and promotional. Clark said she does not support spending tax dollars on any mass mailings to constituents.
Bachmann's ad uses Clark's vote in the Legislature this spring to tie her to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, asking whether "you want this to be your economic team for our country?" It is Bachmann's fourth ad of the campaign, all of which have centered on Clark's tax record.
"Tarryl Clark. Another big spending, big taxing job killer," an announcer says. Notably, it is the first ad that does not feature "Jim the Election Guy."