Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Leo Berman claim about Obama topped our charts

A claim by Rep. Leo Berman proved our most-read article of the 2011 Texas legislative session.
A claim by Rep. Leo Berman proved our most-read article of the 2011 Texas legislative session.

It’s no surprise to us that fact checks of a statement by Gov. Rick Perry and another by President Barack Obama landed among reader favorites through the regular legislative session that ended May 30. But our reviews of two statements by state Rep. Leo Berman — both skeptical about Obama’s birth in Hawaii — also landed on the top-10 list, with one proving, by far, the most-read PolitiFact Texas article from January through May.

The 10 most-viewed PolitiFact Texas articles:

No. 10: U.S. Rep. Sylvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, poked at GOP Rep. John Boehner, the House speaker from Ohio, saying Boehner "should focus on controlling the level of violence in his own state before tarnishing the image of border communities that remain among the safest places to live in America. ... The fact remains that the six largest cities in Ohio all have higher rates of violence and crime than every major city along the U.S.-Mexico border." That proved Mostly True.

No. 9: Texas Republican Ron Paul, the U.S. House member running afresh for president, earlier said that a lack of stability in Iraq is having dire consequences for religious minorities. "Today there was an article, I think, on New York Times — the last Christians are about to leave there, " he said on MSNBC on Jan. 20. Turns out, the number of Christians in Iraq has dropped significantly since 2003, but hundreds of thousands remain. We found the claim ridiculous. Pants on Fire!

No. 8: State Rep. Stefani Carter, R-Dallas, told an interviewer the superintendent of the Beaumont school district is the "highest-paid" schools’ chief in Texas. Crunching numbers, we determined that at least three superintendents have better compensation packages. Half True.

No. 7: State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, played hardball with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews over whether suds are allowed on Texas college campuses. Wentworth, discussing his proposal allowing concealed handguns on campuses, said: "We don’t have bars on campus in Texas ... It’s against the law in Texas." Good night, Irene. Pants on Fire!

No. 6: Berman, R-Tyler, told Politico he’s read "different things that say (Obama) was born in Hawaii, and then I read the governor (of Hawaii) can’t find anything that says he was born in Hawaii." To our query, Berman didn’t pinpoint where he heard or read the governor couldn’t find such proof. We combed published reports, finding nada backing Berman’s claim. False.

No. 5: MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on her program "states like Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Utah... all routinely get a lot more federal spending than they pay in taxes." We found that annually between 1981 and 2003, Texas almost always paid more in federal taxes than it got back from Uncle Sam. But since 2003 the reverse has been true, with Texas receiving more than it paid in five of seven years. Her claim is Mostly True.

No. 4: A Houston group, Raging Republicans, said on its web site that the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican. The record shows that King avoided partisan identification. This statement rated False.

No. 3: In his January inaugural address, Perry boasted of Texans’ prowess. Among achievements Perry credited to Texans was pioneering space. "Matter of fact," he said, "the first word spoken from the moon was 'Houston.' " Surprisingly to us, that’s not so. Neil Armstrong's famous message to Earth from the moon — "Houston... the Eagle has landed" — was preceded by less-noted words. Perry’s statement landed False.

No. 2: Asked whether the federal government should take governing cues from the Lone Star State, Obama said he saw inconsistency in that approach, adding: "Keep in mind, Gov. Perry helped balance his budget with about $6 billion worth of federal help, which he happily took, and then started blaming the members of Congress who had offered that help." Perry indeed accepted stimulus money used to help balance the budget, though we found no sign he then started "blaming" members of Congress who had supported the stimulus legislation. Perry’s criticism of the federal government had started long before. Mostly True.

No. 1: On the day Obama released the long-form version of his Hawaii birth certificate, Berman was quoted saying the hospital Obama lists on his birth certificate — in fact, all hospitals in Honolulu — have denied the president was born there. Berman then told us that two hospitals, including Kapiolani Medical Center For Women and Children, where Obama says he was born, have denied it. Kapiolani, citing federal privacy law, hasn’t confirmed Obama’s birth there. But we found no record of the hospital denying it — nor did Berman deliver evidence. Pants on Fire!