O'Malley on the trail but lagging

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley appeared on ABC's "This Week." Was his claim about wages accurate? We took a closer look.
Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley appeared on ABC's "This Week." Was his claim about wages accurate? We took a closer look.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley trails badly in fundraising and name recognition in his bid to be the Democratic nominee for president.

Time magazine reported last week that the two-term governor raised $2 million in the first month of his campaign. Frontrunner Hillary Clinton, by comparison, had brought in $45 million since announcing her bid in April.

O’Malley is polling just 1 percent support in recent polls in the relatively small Democratic field.

He likewise falls behind when it comes to fact-checks. PolitiFact has checked 10 statements by him (compared to 112 checks on claims from frontrunner Hillary Clinton).

The one area O’Malley falls squarely in the middle may be of little comfort: He has received no True, Mostly True or Pants on Fire ratings.

Rather, the Truth-O-Meter has stayed most in Half True (7 times), with two Mostly False and one False.

Below is a sampling of those fact-checks. You can see them all at http://www.politifact.com/personalities/martin-omalley/.

"Today in America, 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago, and this is the first time that that has happened this side of World War II."

Martin O’Malley, in his May 30th, 2015 presidential announcement speech

Little known beyond his work as Baltimore mayor and governor of Maryland, O’Malley has built a campaign on education, jobs and immigration reform.

In his announcement speech, O’Malley played up the economic opportunity notes now coming from the other Democrats in the race.

"Today in America, 70 percent of us are earning the same or less than we were 12 years ago, and this is the first time that that has happened this side of World War II," he said.

"Today in America, family-owned businesses and farms are struggling to compete with ever larger concentrations of corporate power. … The American dream seems for so many of us to be hanging by a thread."

Data from the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank, back up the first part of that claim. From 2002 to 2014, each group up to and including the 70th percentile saw its inflation-adjusted income decline.

The EPI data only goes back to 1973, however, making it impossible to use that source to verify the second part of the claim about World War II.

Data from the U.S. Census bureau supports O’Malley’s general point since 1947: For only three 12-year periods does the bottom 80 percent of the income scale experience a decline or no change in inflation-adjusted income.

And, they’re the three most recent periods: 1999 to 2011, 2000 to 2012, and 2001 to 2013.

That undercuts O’Malley’s claim that this is unprecedented going back to World War II.

We rated his statement Half True.

Says Rick Perry of Texas was "the governor who relied most on stimulus funds to close his state’s budget deficit in 2010."

Martin O’Malley in a June 15th, 2011 press release.

O’Malley is a veteran of the Sunday morning news shows, touting the Democratic Party line and jousting with GOP counterparts in his past role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.

In 2011, two now-Republican presidential contenders drew O’Malley’s attention. The day after Texas Gov. Rick Perry filled in for Donald Trump at a gathering of New York Republicans, O’Malley poked fun at Perry’s anti-Washington message.

Suggesting that President Barack Obama is tackling the nation’s economic problems with "responsible budget cuts" and "smart investments," O’Malley added: "As the governor who relied most on stimulus funds to close his state’s budget deficit in 2010, Rick Perry surely understands the value of the president’s investments."

PolitiFact rated the claim Mostly True Obama’s claim that Perry "helped balance his budget with about $6 billion of federal help" in 2009.

But O’Malley’s assertion focused on how stimulus dollars were allocated in the state’s biennial budget cycle.

A survey by the National Conference of State Legislatures backs up the claim – to a point.

Texas was the state " that depended the most on those very stimulus funds to plug nearly 97 percent of its shortfall for fiscal 2010," according to a CNN.com story of the survey.

However, the NCSL drew information on just 35 states. PolitiFact could not find similar studies to assess those figures.

And, the NCSL survey did gather data from 50 states in one area: that of the budget gaps. Texas had a relatively small shortfall of about 11 percent. With a smaller gap, that meant more of the shortfall could be covered with stimulus dollars.

O’Malley’s claim is partially accurate, but ignores the context that explains the data.

We rated the claim Half True.

"The CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton."

Martin O’Malley in his May 30TH, 2015 presidential announcement speech

O’Malley is now only pulling about 1 percent in the polls. But long before he was barely a blip, he tried to make a splash by arguing Wall Street wanted a Clinton matchup with Jeb Bush in 2016.

"Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he’d be just fine with either Bush or Clinton," O’Malley said. "Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street: The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families."

We had no trouble finding Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s support for Hillary Clinton.

The self-described Democrat, personally contributed $4,600 to Clinton’s last presidential campaign (and thousands to past Democratic presidential candidates).

He told Politico magazine in 2014, "I very much was supportive of Hillary Clinton the last go-round," he said. "I held fundraisers for her."

But did Blankfein sign off on the presumed Republican frontrunner, especially in front of the firm's 34,400 employees?

In a March 2015 Politico article, economic reporter Ben White detailed Blankfein’s close relationship with the Clintons and wrote," Blankfein has indicated he would be fine with either a Bush or Clinton presidency."

White told us in an email that to his knowledge, Blankfein has never stated this publicly, though he’s suggested it privately, according to anonymous sources close to the CEO.

It wouldn’t be unusual for business leaders to play close to both parties. But in this case, Blankfein has thrown his money behind only one candidate in question, not the other.

We rated O’Malley’s statement Mostly False.

Maryland is "creating jobs at 2 ½ times the rate that Virginia is."

Martin O’Malley, in a TV interview on Feb. 5, 2012.

In his role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, O’Malley went to battle with his neighboring governor, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

McDonnell, who was head of the Republican Governors Association, gave job creation credit in 2012 to policies by GOP governors and was dismissive of President Barack Obama’s efforts.

O’Malley lauded the president’s policies and then claimed the results were clear" "We’re creating jobs at 2 ½ times the rate that Virginia is."

Seasonally adjusted Bureau of Labor Statistics figures support that claim, showing a 1.21 percent increase in jobs in Maryland I between January and December 2011 and just .06 percent increase in Virginia.

Economists, though, said that more typical comparisons are to look at the same month in given years, not the first and last month of any given year.

Using that formula, the two states come out about even, which economists agree is the case.

O’Malley’s claim only is valid if he cherry picks the formula.

We rated the claim False.  

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ROAD TO 2016

Martin O’Malley

Age: 52, born Jan. 18, 1963 in Washington, D.C.

Political party: Democrat

Political experience:  Baltimore City Council, 1991 to 1999. Baltimore Mayor, 1999 to 2007. Governor of Maryland, 2008 to 2014.

Business: Former assistant state's attorney for Baltimore.

Education:  Bachelor’s degree from Catholic University of America and law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Family: Wife, Katie, a District Court judge, and four children.

Interesting factoid:  In 1986, O'Malley took his first job in politics as a state field director for Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski’s successful U.S. Senate campaign. O'Malley served as a legislative fellow for Sen. Mikulski from 1987 to 1988, while he was in law school.