The Crossroads ad, which points to an incestuous relationship between unions and liberal politicians, cites a paper from CATO's Chris Edwards on public-sector unions to state that their members in government make 42 percent more than "non-union" workers. The figure is potentially misleading for two reasons. First, the grammar in the ad is ambiguous, making it unclear from whether it is a comparison with all non-union workers, or non-union government workers. (Sargent wrote -- incorrectly -- that the ad specifically compares government union workers to "non unionized workers in general.")
Second, as the CATO paper notes, the 42 percent figure does not account for the fact that most unionized government workers live in states with high costs of living and high incomes, like New Jersey, California and New York. The paper suggests that after controlling for this, the discrepancy is probably something closer to 10 percent.
Sargent quoted Chris Edwards, the author of the paper, as if he were outraged by the misuse of his data. This, too, was somewhat misleading, Edwards told The Examiner.
“I didn’t initiate a complaint against the ad,” said Edwards. “The Washington Post put a spin on it that I’m making a big deal out of it. I’m not.” Edwards, who had been unaware of the ad before receiving Sargent's call, called the ad’s mistake a “copy editing error,” and said that its misinformation comes from its vagueness.