Outsourcing issue heats up Georgia's close U.S. Senate race

A production manager at Millennium Mats checks one of the printed products at its Suwanee plant in 2012, after the firm reversed its outsourcing efforts and shifted work back to the U.S. from China. Photo by Kent D. Johnson/ AJC.
A production manager at Millennium Mats checks one of the printed products at its Suwanee plant in 2012, after the firm reversed its outsourcing efforts and shifted work back to the U.S. from China. Photo by Kent D. Johnson/ AJC.

With the unemployment raise rising and polls showing tight statewide elections, Georgia’s economy has become a hot issue in the battle to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss.

Both Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn are political novices who play up their business experience for the job.

Perdue says his business experience, including a stint as Dollar General CEO, will help him be a leader on efforts to boost the economy. Nunn, the longtime head of the nonprofit Points of Light founded by former President Bush, says she is a problem solver who can build consensus on job creation.

The pair has long clashed on those records but the battle gained national attention when Politico.com reported last week that Perdue said in a deposition that he "spent most of my career" outsourcing.

The deposition was from a lawsuit following the bankruptcy of Pillowtex, a North Carolina firm that failed shortly after his brief tenure as CEO.

The Truth-O-Meter already ruled Mostly False both a claim that Perdue was to blame for the company’s failure and another claim that he piled Pillowtex with billions in debt.

But Perdue doubled down on the outsourcing statement this week. Asked about the outsourcing, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Defend it? I’m proud of it. This is a part of American business, part of any business."

PolitiFact Georgia plans to tackle that issue again soon.

But Perdue made similar statements about outsourcing to our fact checkers, resulting in a Half True rating about a claim that  he sent thousands of jobs and a True rating on a claim that his firm closed plants in Georgia and sent jobs to China.

This week, Nunn’s camp seized on the outsourcing news as evidence that Perdue’s experience makes him unfit for the job.

"Instead of acknowledging the real impact he had on thousands of families across the country, David Perdue said he was 'proud' of his work outsourcing that made him a very rich man," said Nunn spokesman Nathan Click.  "Perdue's response isn't just a baffling campaign gaffe. It gives Georgians a real window into who he is and who he will fight for in the U.S. Senate."

But Nunn has had her own troubles on the Truth-O-Meter when it comes to her experience. Her claim that Points of Light is "the world’s largest volunteer organization" earned a False rating.

And PolitiFact Georgia ruled Mostly True on a claim that Nunn "earned as much as $300,000" while the charity laid off 90 workers.