Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Christie’s record framed by opposing story lines from political advocacy groups

Two political advocacy groups have faced the Truth-O-Meter for claims about Gov. Chris Christie's record.
Two political advocacy groups have faced the Truth-O-Meter for claims about Gov. Chris Christie's record.

Beyond the messages distributed by state legislators and the governor’s office, two political advocacy groups are working behind the scenes to tell competing versions of Chris Christie’s New Jersey.

Watch a television ad from one group, and you’re told that Gov. Chris Christie is revitalizing New Jersey after inheriting the highest taxes in the nation and the worst unemployment in the region.

A news release from the other group offers a different take on the Republican governor -- he’s all talk and little action when it comes to growing employment in the Garden State.

During the past several months, PolitiFact New Jersey has put a total of five claims to the Truth-O-Meter from these two organizations: the Committee for Our Children’s Future, a group touting the governor’s reform efforts, and One New Jersey, another group doing just the opposite.

As we’ve discovered, both story lines are stretching the truth.

Committee for Our Children’s Future

Since launching its first television campaign in September 2011, the Committee for Our Children’s Future has faced the Truth-O-Meter three times.

In October, the group received a Half True for a TV ad claiming that Christie "cut spending (by) $1 billion" and provided "$850 million in new education funding."

On the spending cuts, the group was accurate, because Christie cut about $1 billion from the fiscal year 2012 budget approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature. But the claim about education funding ignored the fact that Christie cut education aid by about $829 million in his first budget.

The group received another Half True when it claimed in a Jan. 25 video that Christie and bipartisan reformers were responsible for "the most job growth in 11 years."

PolitiFact New Jersey found that the claim wasn’t totally accurate when you consider employment changes in both the private- and public-sectors. For both sectors combined, New Jersey’s growth in 2011 was the best in seven years -- not 11 years.

In our latest ruling, the Committee for Our Children’s Future comes away with a Mostly True for claiming in a Jan. 31 video that when Christie took office in January 2010, he "inherited the highest taxes in America and the worst unemployment in the region."

New Jersey did have greater unemployment than its neighboring states, but New Jersey didn’t necessarily have the highest taxes in the nation. Depending on how you crunch the numbers, the rankings can differ.

One New Jersey

On the other side of the political spectrum is One New Jersey, a frequent critic of the governor's policies since being unveiled in July 2011.

Soon after the group entered the political scene, PolitiFact New Jersey examined a claim by its spokesman, Joshua Henne, who argued that New Jersey had fewer jobs than when Christie took office in January 2010.

An analysis of federal labor statistics publicly available at the time of his statement revealed that Henne’s claim was wrong. As of May 2011, the state had seen an increase of 6,400 nonfarm jobs during Christie’s tenure.

Henne received a False from the Truth-O-Meter.

More recently, One New Jersey received a Half True for jobs-related claims in a Jan. 26 news release attacking Christie. The group stated that New Jersey is "down nearly 200,000 jobs from its pre-recession peak" and "for 12 consecutive months, New Jersey has trailed the rest of America when it comes to unemployment."

The state is down more than 205,000 jobs since October 2007, but most of that job loss occurred before Christie took office. In fact, the state has gained jobs under Christie. Also, New Jersey’s unemployment rate has trailed the national rate for 11 consecutive months, not a full year.

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