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UPDATED: Controversial Connolly ad hits Fimian for alleged bonus plan

Ben Pershing

Update 7:01 p.m.
A fuller version of the video clip of Fimian at George Mason University, which was viewed by Virginia Politics but is not available to post, makes it unclear whether his comment about congressional bonuses was really a "quip," as his campaign contends. Fimian does not smile or laugh during his statement, nor does anyone in the audience. Here's a fuller quote from his appearance:

Stop spending. I don't care what you've gotta do -- stop spending. You're not spending your money, okay, you're not spending my kids' money. You're spending my grandkids' money. So stop your spending. And look - I'm okay with this: Cut my salary in Congress to 50,000 bucks, 'till I balance the budget. But when I balance the budget, I want a $250,000 bonus. If every congressman had that incentive, what do you think would happen? What gets incented gets done. Let's change the paradigm. Let's break through the mess.

Original Post:
The Northern Virginia airwaves are getting more crowded -- and more controversial.

Rep. Gerald Connolly's (D) reelection campaign is up with a negative spot accusing his opponent, Oakton businessman Keith Fimian (R), of advancing an odd new bonus system for members of Congress:

The ad opens with a clip of Fimian appearing at George Mason University in September, standing at a chalkboard saying: "Cut my salary in Congress 50,000 bucks, 'till I balance the budget. When I balance the budget, I want a $250,000 bonus."

Then the narrator takes over: "Keith Fimian's plan to balance the budget? Give himself and Congress a bonus, costing taxpayers $133 million. ... Gerry Connolly doesn't believe Congress should get a bonus for doing its job. He voted against congressional pay raises and said no to tax increases."

Does Fimian actually advocate such a bonus scheme? His campaign says the idea is ridiculous.

"It was a quip about how a businessman might go about providing an incentive for members of Congress to balance the budget," said Fimian campaign manager Tim Edson, adding that Fimian does advocate cutting lawmakers' pay until the budget is balanced but does not support bonuses.

Edson also fired back at Connolly, noting that the Democrat supported pay increases for himself when he was on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and voted for a federal budget with a huge deficit.

The blogosphere is divided over the ad. The liberal site Blue Virginia posted the spot approvingly, writing "I'm sure this idea will go over really well with voters in the 11th CD. Not." But another liberal blog, Not Larry Sabato, linked to it under the simple headline, "One of The Stupidist [sic] Political Ads I Have Ever Seen."

By Ben Pershing  | October 7, 2010; 3:40 PM ET
Categories:  Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Keith Fimian  
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Connolly's not much of a math wiz. IF Congress could produce and pass - say within 4 years - a budget that really balances (it would take longer) then each member of Congress would cost taxpayers at least $46,000 LESS over that period.....PLUS Americans would be overjoyed by the fact that they've stopped hundreds of billions in deficit spending.
Sounds like a good deal.

Posted by: exposehypocrites | October 7, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, me too. I'm a lifelong independent, only because I'm a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, which neither party's planks meet, and I like that idea a lot.

_That's_ the kind of change I wish Mr. Obama had been able to pull off.

Posted by: jayconverse | October 8, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Connolly voted for TARP, the STIMULUS and OBAMACARE

He's getting sent home.

Posted by: Oriana2 | October 8, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Gerry, Gerry Gerry! If I could pay $133MM in bonuses to congressmen who actually balanced our budget I would consider that money very well spent, indeed.

Of course Keith Fimian was making a "quip." Does anyone really think that such an incentive could possibly work for elected officials? Actually, it does, but that's part of why we have the deficits we do, because of congressmen having "incentives" to pass legislation that overspends and favors special interests who will contribute to their campaigns.

So what incentives made Gerry vote for Obamacare, TARP and cap-and-trade?

Posted by: joeduffus | October 8, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

It is outrageous that Mr. Connolly is taking Keith Fimian's comment so far out of context. Fimian was simply making a point that the Congress should take a pay cut until they do their jobs. Most of us do not get paid when we do not do our jobs, so why should Congress?

Connolly is trying to tell us that he is an "independent voice" in Congress, and yet he voted with Nancy Pelosi 97.8% of the time! So much for independence!

Vote for Keith Fimian! Let's give a businessman a chance!

Posted by: Bellringer1 | October 9, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

“Fimian is a businessman and apparently believes that employees should be paid based on tangible results. If Fimian is really able to balance the budget, we'd save Billions! If a $250,000 bonus would provide some backbone to policians like Gerry, then let's give it a try - nothing else has worked.”

Posted by: pickdennis | October 9, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Calling Gerry Connolly a "Tax Cutting Democrate is like calling Marion Barry a DEA Agent.

Posted by: priveye | October 11, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Will it ever be possible for Connolly to be honest about anything?
Fimian's ads are fact based on issues, whlie Connolly makes up lies.
IF Obamacare is so great, why isn't Connolly running ads about it?

What are you trying to hide, comrade Connolly?

Posted by: fairfaxgoper | October 12, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

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