PolitiFact: Cagle cites wrong source on homicides by immigrants

PolitiFact last week looked at two claims by candidates for Georgia governor, from Casey Cagle on homicides committed by immigrants and from Stacey Abrams on her opponent’s voting record on school vouchers. We also checked a comment by Missouri Senator Roy Blunt on the growth of the U.S. tax code. Here are summaries of our findings. Full versions can be found at www.politifact.com.

A Homeland Security study “showed 120 murders took place that could have been prevented had communities been working with ICE and Homeland Security.”

— Casey Cagle on Monday, October 9th, 2017 in a WSB-TV interview

We found that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not done a study on this issue. Cagle’s office pointed us to a 2015 letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which said that according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement data, “up to 121 homicides in the U.S. could have been avoided” between fiscal years 2010 and 2014 if ICE had deported criminal immigrants instead of releasing them back into the United States. That letter is not about sanctuary cities’ lack of cooperation with ICE.

Our ruling

DHS said it had not published a report such as Cagle cited. Cagle’s office actually referred to a 2015 letter from the Senate Judiciary Committee that said up to 121 homicides could have been avoided if ICE had deported criminal immigrants.

Cagle’s statement is not accurate. We rate it False.

Says Stacey Evans “voted for (school) vouchers … in the beginning.”

— Stacey Abrams on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 in a public forum

Abrams later said she was referring to Evans’ involvement with a bill about the Georgia Student Scholarship Organization. That program began in 2008, three years before Evans was in Georgia’s General Assembly. Back then, the Student Scholarship Organization bill established a program that allows people and businesses to receive tax credits if they make donations to local private schools. The money is used to fund scholarships to qualified, low-income students to attend the private institutions.

Abrams claims that Evans had voted in favor of school vouchers a few years later, when the Legislature made revisions to the program.

Evans did vote for an early version of the 2011 bill, but not for the final version. According to her campaign, she only voted for the measure because it had provisions that improved the program’s transparency. When the final bill hit the House floor with its final revisions, the transparency clauses were removed, so Evans voted against the bill.

Evans has also maintained the Student Scholarship Organization is not a voucher program. On June 26, 2017, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the scholarship program is not a voucher program, because it is financed by private individuals, not public revenue, a fact Abrams had acknowledged during the debate.

Our ruling

Some aspects of Abrams’ statement are wrong. Evans wasn’t in the Legislature in 2008 when the Student Scholarship Organization program was approved. In 2011, Evans voted for revisions to the program, although she voted against the final bill after those revisions were dropped. There’s been a legal dispute over whether the tax credits that fund the Student Scholarship Organization make the program different from school vouchers. In June 2017 Georgia’s Supreme Court ruled that the “voucher” label did not apply.

Abrams’ claim had some accurate points, but it left out important details. We rate it Half True.

“Our tax code has nearly doubled since 1985.”

— Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 in a tweet

If you download the Internal Revenue Code from the United States Code, the file has 6,550 pages. Blunt definitely got it right that the code is long, but has it doubled since 1985?

“Since it was last reformed in 1986, there have been thousands of additions and changes to the Tax Code over the last 30 years,” said Caroline Bruckner, the Managing Director of the Kogod Tax Policy Center at American University.

A report from the Taxpayer Advocate Service to Congress in 2008 noted the word count of tax code had grown from 1.395 million words in 2001 to 3.7 million words when the report was done, 265 percent growth in seven years. “The Code has grown so long that it has become challenging even to figure out how long it is,” the report said.

Our ruling

Blunt said the tax code has nearly doubled since 1985. Government and independent reports suggest the number of words used in the tax grown has grown even more than that.

We rate this claim True.

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