Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Fact-checking the attack ads in Pinellas' CD 13 race

Republican David Jolly, left, will face Democrat Alex Sink in a March special election to represent Florida's 13th district in Congress.
Republican David Jolly, left, will face Democrat Alex Sink in a March special election to represent Florida's 13th district in Congress.

Attacks in the Pinellas County U.S. House race are coming fast and furious, thanks to a shortened campaign schedule for the March 11 special election. As Democrats look to retake the House from Republicans, the seat is a prime target for both parties. That means national campaign organizations are spending big bucks to reach voters.

On Jan. 21, Democrats targeted former lobbyist David Jolly’s resume with a commercial that charged his former firm lobbied "for hundreds of millions (of dollars) for a dictator in Pakistan." Besides implying Jolly was somehow involved -- which he was not -- the ad also made it seem his employer had been doing something wrong by lobbying for a U.S. ally in the war on terror. We rated the claim Half True.

The next day, the GOP attacked former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, saying she had supported "more taxes on water and TV." We looked up her statements from decades past and found that subject came up while she was on an advisory panel for education policies. It was a minor moment that had no binding legislative authority, but it still happened, so we rated the claim Mostly True.

We’ve already checked both candidates in this race before -- for example, we’ve rated as Half True a claim that Sink "used a taxpayer-funded plane so she could get to a vacation in the Bahamas," and rated Jolly’s claim that he’d "never lobbied for offshore oil drilling" Mostly False.

Stay tuned for more as we approach Election Day, and as always, email us, reach us on Facebook or send us a tweet with claims you would like us to look into.