A look at the claims that scorched in 2014
Not many Georgia politicians and pundits spun the Truth-O-Meter to the fiery regions of Pants on Fire in 2014.
PolitiFact Georgia has published more than 250 fact checks this, but only two statewide politicians saw flames. One Georgia congressman earned the rating, where claims were found to ridiculously or knowingly false.
Today we kick off a weeklong review of some of our favorite 2014 fact-checks with summaries of the most incendiary ones.
Full reports can be found at www.politifact.com/georgia. Comments are always welcome, and suggestions taken, at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia.
U.S. Rep Phil Gingrey, R-Marietta: Amid the "crisis at our southern border," there are "reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as … Ebola virus."
Marietta Congressman Phil Gingrey was the only Georgian whose distortion was included in PolitiFact’s 2014 Lie of the Year.
The winner was actually a collection of claims – all wrong – about the deadly Ebola virus. Gingrey’s claim was even more egregious, given he is a doctor whose July letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to make political points about a public health issue.
"As a physician for over 30 years, I am well aware of the dangers infectious diseases pose," Gingrey wrote. "Reports of illegal migrants carrying deadly diseases such as swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis are particularly concerning."
Given that Ebola is endemic in Africa, not Central America, it was not surprising that health experts roundly dismissed the claim.
While infectious diseases from countries with poor health records do pose risks in migrants, Ebola would most likely kill someone trying to travel by foot. The disease, with a 21-day incubation period, is more likely transmitted by legal travelers, who fly across borders.
Gingrey’s office also was unable to point to solid evidence that that Ebola has arrived in Western Hemisphere, much less the U.S. border. To the contrary, the CDC and independent epidemiologists say there is zero evidence that these migrants are carrying the virus to the border.
The ruling: Pants on Fire.
Matt McGrath, the campaign manager for Democrat Jason Carter’s governor run, says Gov. Nathan Deal "has the worst record on education in the history of this state."
Education was one of the hottest issues in the hotly contested 2014 race for governor, but it wasn’t the
At the time, the race appeared to be a nail biter between Republican incumbent Nathan Deal and Democrat Jason Carter, the former state senator from Atlanta and grandson of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Carter’s campaign manager Matt McGrath ratcheted up the rhetoric in a press release that declared Republican incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal "has the worst record in the history of this state."
That’s a bold claim about a state that was one of the nation’s 13 originals, so we went digging on Deal and the 81 governors who preceded him.
Georgia’s school systems were collectively short-changed more than $1 billion a year in each of the first three years of Deal’s term. His predecessor, GOP Gov. Sonny Perdue, started those "austerity cuts" in 2003.
Carter’s team said the statement was meant to draw attention to those funding cuts.
But it failed to consider "in history," Georgia made almost no attempt to educate poor whites, banned education for enslaved (and sometimes freed) blacks, and aided the removal of Native American children from the state.
That history can’t be ignored, and any claim to a "worst" label goes well beyond simply exaggerating for political effect. Our rating: Pants on Fire.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue: "Michelle Nunn’s own plan says she funded organizations linked to terrorists."
A recent U.S. Senate report on torture is a rare public document in the nation’s fight against terrorism. With such little concrete information, pundits and politicians with varying degrees of information have tried to fill the gaps with theories that range from restrained to conspiratorial.
Against that canvas, Republican U.S. Senate candidate David Perdue aired a television ad this summer that attempted to link Democratic rival Michelle Nunn’s nonprofit work with funneling money to terrorists.
His source: Nunn’s leaked campaign documents that, in a section of anticipated attacks and vulnerabilities, listed "service awards to inmates, terrorists" during her leadership at Points of Light.
That means Nunn’s camp correctly predicted the attack and attempt to link her to terrorists.
The link, MissionFish, is flimsy. Points of Light owned that business until 2012, as it collected donations from eBay users for about 20,000 charities.
One of those charities, Islamic Relief USA, received about $13,500 in donations from MissionFish, and has partnered with the umbrella group Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) on disaster relief programs.
A top Israeli defense official has accused IRW of having links to the terrorist group Hamas, and in June, the defense minister banned it from operating there.
But the U.S. State Department does not consider IRW a terrorist organization or front, and the group itself adamantly denies any terrorist ties.
Islamic Relief USA, meanwhile, earns a perfect score from Charity Navigator for its transparency and accounting.
Speculating about attacks does not lend credence to their accuracy. The attempt to tar Nunn was farfetched at best, ridiculous at worst. We rated it Pants on Fire.
Solar panels "drain the sun’s energy," says a chain email.
Our national partners at PolitiFact took on a chain email that circulated in May, based on an article on the website National Report. Here’s an excerpt:
"Scientists at the Wyoming Institute of Technology, a privately-owned think tank located in Cheyenne, Wyoming, discovered that energy radiated from the sun isn’t merely captured in solar panels, but that energy is directly physically drawn from the sun by those panels, in a process they refer to as ‘forced photovoltaic drainage."
The story continued in a white paper from the group, saying there was no immediate danger but conversion to solar energy would be disastrous:
"’If every home in the world had solar panels on their roofs, global temperatures would drop by as much as thirty degrees over twenty years, and the sun could die out within three hundred to four hundred years.’"
Missing from the chain email: Information that National Report is a satire site. We checked with a solar energy expert, who confirmed the story was hokum.
Even a closer read of the National Report article shows the obvious tongue-in-cheek effort.
The Wyoming Institute of Technology, according to the website, was originally founded in 1943 as the Wyoming Institute of Education and Nuclear Energy Research (WIENER, get it?) and has purportedly invented such technologies as "smellovision" and "the world’s first 100% organic artificial nose, which was created for pop-star Michael Jackson in 1999."
In other words, the claim is a joke, not science. Cue the solar flares: We ruled Pants on Fire.