Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Frank Lautenberg versus the Truth-O-Meter: A look back

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg discusses the national health care reform law during this May 3 appearance at Rutgers-Camden. Go to 4:30 to hear his comments.

Supporting rail transportation, rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy and making the the nation’s gun laws tougher.

These are among the many hallmark issues of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who announced today that he would not seek re-election to a sixth term in 2014. This would mark the Democrat’s second retirement from the Senate. After retiring in 2000, Lautenberg returned to the Senate when then-Sen. Robert Torricelli dropped out of re-election race for because of ethical trouble.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced in January that he would not run for governor of New Jersey and instead mull a run for Lautenberg’s Senate seat.

Given Lautenberg’s long tenure in the Senate, PolitiFact New Jersey is looking back at fact-checks for some of  the senator’s claims.

Money train needed

Lautenberg in October 2011 described funding for Amtrak in an article on NOLA.com, saying that federal highway spending in 2010 exceeded all funding for Amtrak in its 40-year history. The Federal Highway Administration confirmed the highway spending figure, as did Amtrak in a letter requesting $2.2 billion in federal assistance for its Fiscal Year 2012 budget. The claim was on track and was rated True.

Dramatic differences

After the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting of 20 people in Tucson, Ariz., including then-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), Lautenberg pointed to the stark differences in shootings in the United States versus other countries. In making his case to tighten gun laws, Lautenberg said, "When we look at the number of murders in the United States, 2009, we had 9,500 people murdered. When we look around the world, we see large companies -- large countries, the U.K., Germany, Japan had 200 or less killed in a year." Our colleagues at PolitiFact.com fact-checked this statement and found that a couple of Lautenberg’s numbers were off slightly, but the overall point of his claim was solid. He received a Mostly True.

Future enrollees?

Lautenberg took up the national health care banner when he visited the Rutgers-Camden campus in May 2012 to talk about possible benefits of the reform. "Just remember this: the president's health care bill put 30 million people on health care rolls that weren't there before," the senator said. Projections at the time showed that the health care reform might lead to insurance coverage for about 30 million additional Americans, but that wouldn’t happen until 2016. He received a Half True for the claim.

Wrong location

Several boardwalks along the Jersey Shore crumbled in the wake of Hurricane Sandy last October, and Lautenberg cited that devastation in a Nov. 13, 2012 speech to the Senate, imploring members for funding to help New Jersey recover. But Lautenberg erred somewhat when he mentioned the Atlantic City boardwalk. The stretch of boardwalk in front of the casinos that most tourists associate with Atlantic City fared well. The part of the Atlantic City boardwalk that washed away was a dilapidated section that runs along the Absecon Inlet. Much of that boardwalk had been scheduled for demolition. His claim was rated Mostly False.

A complete list of Lautenberg fact-checks is available here.

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