Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Top 5 fact-checks for March

Members of the Legislature greet Rick Scott on March 4, 2014, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo)
Members of the Legislature greet Rick Scott on March 4, 2014, at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo)

March saw the opening of Florida’s legislative session, as well as claims on education and medical marijuana. Here are five of our most popular fact-checks or stories published last month.

How accurate was Rick Scott's 2014 State of the State address?

We looked at four statements in one wrap-up report from Gov. Rick Scott’s State of the State address. (Two of them were repeats of remarks he’d made in the past.) Scott said, "All of Florida's four-year state colleges now offer bachelor's degrees for only $10,000." Actually, not all of them do now, though many are on their way to offering a $10,000 degree for some majors. We rated the statement Mostly False. He also said that four Florida high schools are in the Top 10 of the entire United States. We found that was true for one ranking but not others, so we rated his statement Half True. Scott also said that he cut taxes 24 times. Most of those cuts went to business owners, and he double-counted several measures, so we rated the statement Half True. Finally, Scott continues to claim that state government’s taxing and borrowing crippled the Florida economy. We didn’t find one independent economist who agreed with that; they all blamed the plunge in the housing market and the national recession. We rated his statement False.

Did a SWAT team of "hooligans" arrest a medical marijuana activist?

Attorney John Morgan got carried away in telling a story about medical marijuana activist Cathy Jordan. Morgan said "a SWAT team of hooligans" dragged her from her home and arrested her because of the family’s small growing operation in their Parrish backyard. Jordan has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The real story is that officers obtained consent to search the property, and charges against Jordan’s husband were later dropped. Our fact-check went into detail about the events of the day, but it’s clear that no one was arrested or dragged away. We rated his statement Mostly False.

Did Rick Scott put in place "record funding" to protect Florida’s environment?

Another statement from Scott’s State of the State speech caught people’s attention: "A lot has happened since I spoke to you last year. I can talk about how our unemployment rate is now down to 6.3 percent. How our crime rate is at a 42-year low. How we have invested record funding in protecting our environment ... ." Really? Record funding for the environment? Our review showed environmental funding is complicated, but it seems to be trending down, not up. We rated his statement False.

Is a Florida testing company promoting the gay and lesbian "lifestyle" to school children?

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition said that the company that’s going to do new school testing for the state also promotes the identification of homosexual lifestyles in young children.

It is true the company researches LGBT youth issues and offers advice to organizations that want it on how to assist children who are either gay themselves or have gay and lesbian families. But the company is hardly an advocacy group, and this work isn’t connected to the state testing. We rated the claim Half True.

Did Rick Scott over see the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history?

Just in case you haven’t heard yet, there’s a governor’s race set for November, and the attacks are already starting. The Florida Democratic Party responded to Scott’s attacks about funding for Medicare with this statement: "He lost the right to accuse Democrats of raiding Medicare when he oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history." Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA when the company made a substantial settlement on fraud claims. At the time, it was the largest case in the nation’s history, but since then there have been bigger settlements, though the other settlements didn’t have as direct a connection to Medicare. We rated the claim Mostly True.

Spot a claim in need of a fact-check? Tweet us #PolitiFactThis or email us at florida@politifact.com