An attack ad from George LeMieux links U.S. Rep. Connie Mack with Hooters, the home of big-busted gals in short shorts and tight T-shirts who serve up eye candy along with tasty chicken wings.
The ad depicts Mack as a reckless party boy:
"Connie the fourth took seven and a half-years to finish college. … Drunken Brawls. … Arrested. … Road rage. … His only real job in the real world? An ‘events coordinator’ for Hooters!"
The ad shows a voluptuous woman sporting a cowboy hat as a grinning Mack dances around holding a "rent tent" sign. (See the ad here.)
LeMieux and Mack are opponents in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, but LeMieux isn’t the first to holler about Mack’s Hooters’ experience. It’s been a common attack on Mack for more than a decade.
But was LeMieux correct to claim that Mack’s job as an "events coordinator’’ for Hooters was Mack’s only "real job in the real world?"
The Feb. 27th ad followed a Miami Herald article dissecting Mack’s past. PolitiFact Florida previously ruled on a separate claim in the ad, that Mack failed to pay his child support, rating it False.
Mack’s jobs cited by his campaign
Mack’s campaign website says he worked in the past as "a business executive with Fort Myers-based LTP Management before becoming an independent business and marketing consultant."
Mack received his bachelor’s degree in 1993. He won a seat in the state House of Representatives, representing Broward and Palm Beach counties in 2000. He then moved to Lee County and won a seat in Congress in 2004.
Mack campaign spokesman David James said that Mack was a marketing executive for LTP Management for about seven years, from 1994 to 2000. The company owned and operated several Hooters franchises in Florida, as well as Dan Marino's Town Tavern and Lulu's Bait Shack. LTP didn’t respond to our requests for an interview.
Mack never received a paycheck directly from Hooters, but "we never denied he worked on behalf of Hooters," James said. James also objected to Mack being called an "events coordinator." He was actually a "marketing executive," James said.
As evidence of other work experience, James said Mack built boats at Marine Concepts in Fort Myers while in high school. Mack also had a series of full-time traveling sales jobs before and after college graduation, including selling Nautilus exercise equipment and MEDX spinal rehab equipment.
"Both were full time, salaried," James wrote. "Nautilus hired him before he finished his degree - but it was not a part-time gig. The spinal rehab equipment job with MEDX was full time. One followed the other." Mack also briefly had a sales job for Hilton Grand Vacations, he said.
In the past, Mack has listed his work experience as LTP Management and his own marketing group, CM and Associates. Those were the only two jobs he listed on a 2002 Miami Herald editorial board questionnaire for the prior five years.
We are limited in analyzing Mack’s private sector work history for a few reasons. For starters, much of it was before he was elected, which means that there was no requirement for him to document it for public review. Once he ran for office and was elected, documents we saw that asked him questions about his work -- such as the Herald’s editorial questionnaire or state disclosure forms about income in 1999 and in 2000 -- didn’t require that he provide details such as how much of his time was spent on Hooters-related assignments. And since Mack worked in marketing, unlike law, he may not have even had to document how much time he spent per restaurant for his own employer.
LeMieux’s campaign said the Hooters claim in their ad came from the February Miami Herald story that stated that Mack worked for a "consultancy to promote Hooters" and a 2011 column in the Palm Beach Post which was written as a mock image makeover for Mack:
"Issue No. 1: Work experience.
"Problem: Before trading on the name of your father (a U.S. senator) to begin your current career as a full-time servant of the people in 2001, the most meaningful employment you had was as a ‘special events coordinator’ for a bunch of Hooters restaurants. Boiled down to its essence: You were the go-to guy for folks who wanted to have scantily clad waitresses appear at their events.
"Solution: You will be effective in a Democratic-controlled Senate, because you already know what it's like being surrounded by a bunch of boobs."
LeMieux’s ad states "Congressman Connie Mack’s only real job in the real world? Events coordinator for Hooters!"
It’s true that most of Mack's work experience in the private sector was with a company that owned and operated Hooters restaurants in Florida. This was the time soon after Mack's graduation from college and before his election to a full-time public office, a period of about seven years.
But the company he worked for owned and operated other restaurants, including Dan Marino's Town Tavern and Lulu's Bait Shack. Mack's campaign said he was marketing executive, not an events coordinator, and also said that Mack had other sales experience prior to that. Meanwhile, the LeMieux campaign couldn't offer specific evidence that Mack's work experience was solely with the Hooters restaurants, which the ad calls "his only real job in the real world."
One of the principles of the Truth-O-Meter is that campaigns have the facts to back up their claims. On this one, the LeMieux team largely comes up short. Overall, we rate this claim Mostly False.
PolitiFact Florida is partnering with 10 News for the 2012 election season. See the video version of this fact-check here.