Thursday, October 30th, 2014

David Dewhurst’s Phoenix kidnapping claim reborn

This February 2009 ABC News report has been cited as a basis for the claim that Phoenix is the No. 2 kidnapping capital of the world.

David Dewhurst may have been the first American leader to say Phoenix is a world kidnapping capital.

But he wasn’t the last to loft this incorrect claim.

At the June 2010 Republican Party of Texas convention, Dewhurst framed his case for border security in part by declaring: "Phoenix, Arizona, I'm told, is now the No. 2 kidnapping capital in the world, right behind Mexico City. That's unacceptable in America."

And it’s not so: We rated Dewhurst’s claim False, noting that while Phoenix had experienced hundreds of kidnappings over the previous few years, we did not find reliable around-the-planet evidence to confirm that only Mexico City experiences more of them. In fact, experts advised that such rankings can't be made based on available information. If they could, they speculated, other cities would prove to have more kidnappings than Arizona's capital.

But the idea that Phoenix is a kidnapping capital persisted.

Nine days after our Dewhurst article was published, U.S. Sen. John McCain said on a Sunday news program "why is it that Phoenix, Arizona, is the number two kidnapping capital of the world? Does that mean our border's safe? Of course not."

We gave another False to McCain’s statement.

Most recently, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said in a Feb. 13, 2013, op-ed article: "Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S.-Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last."

PolitiFact in Washington dug in, hunting fresh information since the utterances of Dewhurst and McCain.

And?

It’s no dice again--and the latest fact check points out that a Phoenix’s ABC-15 TV reviewed police records of kidnappings from 2008 before concluding: "Phoenix police routinely inflated their kidnapping statistics throughout the year, including at least 100 cases that legal experts said should not have been counted, plus dozens of other questionable reports."

PolitiFact rated LaPierre’s statement False, saying it found no factual justification for his sweeping claim.

Maybe this kidnapping claim--rated False thrice--cannot be killed, kind of like the bird of Egyptian mythology.