In the Florida Republican primary for U.S. Senate, George LeMieux is using Adam Hasner's past as a state legislator to try to slap him with the dreaded "moderate" label.
LeMieux's even created a website, www.phonyconservative.com, specifically to attack Hasner's conservative credentials.
"As we've come to expect, Hasner's rhetoric is quite different from his record," the LeMieux campaign says its website, which launched Oct. 3, 2011. "For years, Hasner described himself as a moderate and maintained a moderate reputation. He even cited his efforts to weaken pro-life and school choice legislation as unequivocal proof that he's a moderate. Now that he's running in a Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, Hasner’s telling a different story, wearing a new masquerade mask every day.''
We wondered if Hasner cited his own efforts to weaken pro-life and school choice legislation as proof that he's a moderate.
Abortion and school choice votes
LeMieux spokesman Anna Nix directed us to two votes during Hasner's time in the Legislature from 2002-10 to back up the claim.
The first vote relates to a 2004 resolution seeking to amend the state Constitution to require that parents be notified when their minor daughters seek abortions. Hasner supported an amendment to the resolution introduced by then-state Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat, which would have "guaranteed" a minor the right to bypass parental notification with a judge's okay. The amendment failed 42-73.
Hasner supported the final version of the resolution and in fact co-sponsored the legislation, which included less stringent judicial bypass language than Gelber proposed. "Mine was guaranteed that bypass be available," Gelber told PolitiFact Florida. "I didn't trust the Legislature essentially to implement this with a view toward protecting minors."
Hasner adviser Rick Wilson said that Hasner wanted to ensure the bill's constitutionality so he wanted to make sure it had judicial bypass language. And Hasner defended the constitutional amendment after voters approved it, according to a Nov. 6, 2004, article in the Boca Raton News.
The second vote that LeMieux's campaign cited was against a bill that would have established the K-12 GI Bill Program to allow dependents of a Florida veteran or an active duty member to attend a public school other than the one they were assigned to or a private school. On April 22, 2004, it passed the House 68-45 with Hasner listed as a "No" vote after roll call. The bill ultimately died.
An Oct. 3, 2004, article in the Sun-Sentinel paraphrased Hasner as saying that "he supports the state's voucher program but voted against expanding it to military families until stricter accountability measures have been put in place." However, Hasner voted in favor of a similar bill the year before.
In both cases, there are some caveats to the votes. Hasner actually co-sponsored the parental notification bill, which included language whereby a minor could not notify their parents about their desire to get an abortion by instead asking a judge. But Hasner voted for an amendment with stricter judicial bypass language.
And Hasner voted for a bill in 2003 that would have expanded a school voucher program for dependents of Florida service members but voted against a similar bill in 2004, because he said he wanted stricter accountability measures first put in place.
The votes, however, are only half the story, since LeMieux claimed that Hasner cited them as proof he was moderate.
For that part of the fact-check, LeMieux's campaign sent us to a mailer Hasner sent when he was running for re-election as a state representative in 2004 in which he used the word "moderate" to describe himself. Hasner was running at the time in a Republican-leaning Palm Beach-Broward district.
"Re-elect Hasner... A rising star with moderate leanings ... works behind the scenes for school funding ... can move opinion and craft meaningful laws," said the mailer, pulling partial quotes from a pair of 2004 Sun-Sentinel articles. The mailer also quoted the Boca Raton News from 2004: "well rounded in his views and not stuck on following party lines."
The first Sun-Sentinel story was evaluating area state legislators after the 2004 session and gave Hasner three out of five stars. "A rising star with moderate leanings and leadership hopes, he (Hasner) has gotten several bills passed and works behind the scenes for funding for Palm Beach County schools and other interests." The article did not address Hasner's votes on abortion or school choice.
The second story was an endorsement from the Sun-Sentinel's editorial board, which described him as a "moderate voice." "He also wants to establish meaningful accountability and educational standards for the state's voucher programs." The endorsement did not address abortion and did not explain any efforts in detail Hasner took related to vouchers.
The third article, which appeared in the Boca Raton News, came from the publisher and was about the editorial board preparing to make endorsements. The piece gave kudos to Hasner and called him an "open-minded legislator" but made no specific mention of his votes on abortion or school choice. "Make no mistake about it he is a Republican, but, he unlike so many members of both parties seems to be willing to find resolution to issues based upon what's best for his constituents and not only what's best for his party."
There is, however a Sun-Sentinel article -- not quoted on the mailer the LeMieux campaign cited -- in which Hasner is paraphrased as citing his votes on abortion and/or school choice laws as examples of being a moderate. In the Oct. 3, 2004, story, Hasner's Democratic opponent Doug West claimed that Hasner's voting record closely resembled former Republican House Speaker Johnnie Byrd.
The article quoted Hasner as saying: "Nothing could be farther from the truth."
And then it continued by paraphrasing Hasner: "His voting record reflects the interests of the constituents of District 87, where Republicans hold only a slight majority, he said. Hasner cited votes in support of stem cell research and judicial bypass language in a parental notification bill and votes against a bill to expand the voucher program to families of active and retired military officers as proof he is a moderate Republican. The son of public school teachers, Hasner said he supports the state's voucher program but voted against expanding it to military families until stricter accountability measures have been put in place. He also would support a review of the state's tax exemptions by the nonpartisan group, Florida Tax Watch."
LeMieux says that Hasner "cited his efforts to weaken pro-life and school choice legislation as unequivocal proof that he’s a moderate."
What we have here, based on our review, is a rare double cherry-pick. LeMieux has cherry-picked Hasner cherry-picking his own record. It is true that Hasner cited a vote on judicial bypass and expanding a voucher program as proof that he is a moderate Republican in 2004 and he did use the word "moderate" on his own mailer.
But those 2004 votes have caveats of their own as we've already detailed.
And being labeled a "moderate" does not tell the full picture of Hasner's voting record on the issues of abortion and school choice.
Hasner voted in favor of a bill requiring women seeking abortions to undergo an ultrasound and review it unless they signed a waiver. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed the bill in June 2010. Hasner supported a 2008 bill that required patients to review an ultrasound and that third-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital. (That bill never made it into law.)
Hasner also voted in favor of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program -- which provides a credit to taxpayers who contribute to organizations that award scholarships to students to attend private schools -- in 2008, 2009 and 2010. All were approved by Gov. Crist.
Ultimately, it looks like Hasner stretched the truth to appeal to moderate voters in 2004 and that LeMieux stretched the truth in his attack on Hasner in 2011. On balance, we rate this claim Half True.