Friday, October 31st, 2014

Voting Tuesday? Check out the Truth-O-Meter first

Poll workers in Cranston await voters during slow primary day in September 2008.
Poll workers in Cranston await voters during slow primary day in September 2008.

We're giving the Truth-O-Meter a bit of a rest. For the past few weeks, the increasingly frantic primary campaigns have kept the Meter spinning so fast we worried it might catch on fire. So we decided to reprise some of the more than two dozen rulings we've made on candidates who will face voters in Tuesday's primary elections. We've rated claims on health care, campaign donations, illegal immigration, job creation, and whether one candidate told "3 lies in 10 seconds" about his opponent. We haven't gotten to every candidate. We've focused on the major races and what we considered to be the most clear-cut and interesting statements. Here are some of the highlights.

Republicans for governor
John Robitaille caught our attention for separate statements he made about Democrat Frank Caprio's work history and the perennially troubled Division of Motor Vehicles. We gave a False rating to his claim that Caprio never worked in the private sector. Caprio had been a practicing lawyer for years and also worked in the corporate world. Robitaille's statement that union rules allowed cooks helpers to get jobs at the DMV drew a Half True ruling.

Democrats for Congress, 1st District
Statements by Providence Mayor David N. Cicilline touting his accomplishments during his two terms earned back to back False and True ratings. We found that he couldn't take credit for at least $1 billion of the $3 billion  he said he "ushered into the city."  But we agreed with his assertion  that crime is at its lowest rate in 30 years.


Newcomer Anthony Gemma could keep the Truth-O-Meter busy all by himself. As primary day approached, Gemma's campaign has been unleashing daily attacks on his opponents. We focused on one, his claim that former party chairman Bill Lynch "told 3 lies in 10 seconds" about Gemma. While we wouldn't rule on whether Lynch's statements were "lies," we did find that three of the four that we checked were not accurate. So we rated Gemma's claim Mostly True.

State Rep. David Segal, the most liberal of the four Democrats in the race, vows to stand up to corporate interests if he makes it to Congress. But we found his claim that he "passed laws cracking down on Wall Street banks” to be Barely True.

Bill Lynch claimed that  Cicilline had accepted "hundreds of thousands in donations from lobbyists, PACs and insiders." After checking Cicilline's campaign finance reports, and finding little evidence to support Lynch's claim, we ruled it Barely True.

Democrats for Congress, 2nd District
Rep. Jim Langevin and one of his primary challengers, former state Rep. Elizabeth Dennigan, caught our attention with statements they made about unemployment benefits and Afghanistan, respectively. Langevin said every dollar spent on benefits puts $1.90 into the economy. We ruled that Half True. Dennigan said there are fewer than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan, a claim we found to be Mostly True.

Republicans for Congress, 2nd District
Michael J. Gardiner frequently makes strong statements that cry out for a PolitiFact check. Most recently, he said war costs in Afghanistan are triple "any other place." We found it's two-thirds more expensive to fight in Afghanistan than Iraq and ruled his claim False. Bill Clegg claimed the nation's deficit is growing by $3 million a second, an assertion we found to be 50 times too high, drawing a False rating. And Mark S. Zaccaria made two claims in one sentence about Democrat Jim Langevin's party-line voting record. We rated one True and one False.

Democrats for attorney general
If there were a contest for mudslinging, this race would win, hands down. We've stayed out of the mud while checking statements made by all three candidates. We issued a Pants on Fire rating to Steven Archambault's claim that Blue Cross spent $30,000 on a granite table for its new headquarters. But we found his claim that Rhode Island has one of the nation's highest rates of motor-vehicle fatalities related to alcohol to be Mostly True.

Joseph Fernandez's claim that he stripped "corrupt cops and government officials" of their pensions drew a False ruling. We found Peter Kilmartin's claim that each dollar spent on afterschool programs saved $5 in crime costs to be Half True,  but we gave a Pants on Fire rating to his attack on Fernandez over Fernandez's handling of the Providence bad-check scandal .

We won't be issuing any more rulings until after the primary. But we're charging up the Truth-O-Meter for the race to November. Stay tuned.