This past week, PolitiFact Georgia and the AJC Truth-O-Meter celebrated its third anniversary of fact checks by … completing more fact checks.
We reviewed another attack ad against a Georgia congressman about his position on the federal health care law. We also checked out a two-part claim about violent crime rates and growth of the U.S. prison system. And, for a change of pace, we put on our walking shoes and scouted out a claim about the distance between the offices of the governor and Atlanta’s mayor.
Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below, and full versions can be found at: www.politifact.com/georgia/.
To comment on our rulings or suggest one of your own, go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia). You can also find us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/politifactga).
National Republican Congressional Committee: U.S. Rep. John Barrow’s plan “puts the IRS in charge of your health care.”
The NRCC used this message on mobile billboards to travel around Barrow’s district highlighting his position on the federal health care law, frequently referred to as “Obamacare.”
PolitiFact Georgia recently fact-checked a somewhat similar claim by the National Republican Senatorial Committee against Barrow and rated it Mostly False.
Barrow didn’t vote to create the federal health care law. The NRCC points out, however, that Barrow voted three times against repealing Obamacare, which it says is allowing the law to be implemented. Barrow supports repealing some of the most contentious parts of the law.
Barrow’s camp says what’s most important in this debate is the congressman voted against legislation that would fund additional Internal Revenue Service agents to implement the health care law. The billboards, they say, are disingenuous. It’s not really his plan.
We believe the billboards omitted some important context.
We rated the National Republican Congressional Committee’s claim Mostly False.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: My office is about a 300-step walk to the governor’s office.
Occasionally PolitiFact Georgia likes to take a break from the heavy items like crime and taxes to focus on lighter issues.
That was the case with this claim. Reed’s main point was that he and Gov. Nathan Deal have put their differences aside and worked together to deliver a number of economic development projects for Georgia, including metro Atlanta. And on that point, he was correct.
On the issue of distance between the two leaders’ offices, that answer required more explanation.
Walking the path that the mayor is likely to take, it is 300 steps from Deal’s office to the bottom of the first step of Atlanta City Hall, where Reed’s office is located. Walking all the way to the receptionist who sits just outside the mayor’s office adds additional steps, based on our calculations, which could make the mayor’s claim off by about one-third.
We rated Reed’s claim Mostly True.
U.S. Rep. John Lewis and Bryan Stevenson: “The violent crime rate in America is the same as it was in 1968, yet our prison system has grown by over 500 percent.”
Lewis, an Atlanta Democrat, and Stevenson, a New York University law professor, made this claim as part of their argument against the growth of the nation’s prison system. Lewis believes the criminal justice system institutionally holds a “presumption of guilt” toward African-Americans.
The data we saw shows the men are correct about the growth of the prison system.
As for the crime rate: Lewis’ office said that portion of the claim was based on studies of crime in America’s highest populated state, California, and the nation’s largest municipality, New York City.
But you can use other communities to dispute their argument. And using FBI crime data — which is used by most criminologists — the nation’s violent crime rate has increased during the time frame cited in the claim.
We believe the first part of the statement is off but the second part is on target.
We rated Lewis’ and Stevenson’s claim as Half True.
How does PolitiFact Georgia’s Truth-O-Meter work?
Our goal is to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fact-check statements by local, state and national political leaders, including lobbyists and interest groups. We then rate them on the AJC Truth-O-Meter.
To fact-check the claim, reporters first contact the speaker to verify the statement. Next, the research begins. Reporters consult a variety of sources, including industry and academic experts. This research can take a few hours or a few days, depending on the claim. Reporters then compile the research into story form and include a recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling.
The fact check then moves on to a three-member panel of editors who debate the statement and the reporter’s recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling. The panel votes on a final ruling; majority prevails.