Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Leticia Van de Putte and the Texas Truth-O-Meter

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte waves on ascension to post of Senate president pro tempore in January 2013. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst looks on. (Austin American-Statesman, Laura Skelding).
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte waves on ascension to post of Senate president pro tempore in January 2013. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst looks on. (Austin American-Statesman, Laura Skelding).

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, hasn’t sought statewide office before.

Regardless, the San Antonio Democrat--expected to declare her 2014 candidacy for lieutenant governor--has a PolitiFact report card.

The half-dozen Van de Putte claims we’ve reviewed since 2010 landed ratings of True to False. None of them caught Pants on Fire. Scope her full report card here.

Notably:

--Van de Putte, opposing the Republican-sought law requiring voters to present photo IDs at the polls, told Senate colleagues in January 2011: "In South Bend, Indiana, 10 retired nuns were barred from voting in the 2008 Indiana Democratic primary. Some of them were in their 80s and 90s. ... These nuns were not able to (vote) because they did not have an ID."

Half True: The elderly nuns were barred from casting a regular ballot because they lacked proper identification, but they weren’t barred from voting in another way, such as casting provisional ballots — though their votes wouldn’t have counted unless the sisters took additional steps to meet state qualifications.

--Van de Putte, who chairs the Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee, told colleagues on the Senate floor May 1, 2013 that according to Department of Defense data, only 250 Texans had been killed in action since 9/11.

False: According to the government, 588 Texans had perished in action from January 2002 through Dec. 24, 2012. The senator likely drew her number from the wrong column on a chart.

--In an opinion article that ran in May 2013 in the Austin American-Statesman and other newspapers, state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte warned that lawmakers could water down academic expectations for students, reducing college admissions, also suggesting that pending legislation would make it more likely that high school students take course loads that run short of preparing them for higher education.

Versions approved by the House and Senate, she wrote, could result in students not taking Algebra II. "The problem is, Algebra II is required for eligibility in the automatic admissions program for Texas universities (aka the Top 10 Percent program)," Van de Putte said.

Mostly False: Algebra II is among courses built into the state’s recognized or distinguished achievement graduation plans, which both qualify a graduate for consideration under the 10-percent law. But the law also enables a student to win consideration without taking Algebra II and other college-oriented courses by doing well on the ACT or SAT. Algebra II may widely be taken, but it’s not required to qualify for consideration under the "top 10 percent" law.

--Filing legislation that would require someone selling property to disclose whether a home swimming pool or hot tub has a hazardous drain, Van de Putte said in a February 2011 press release: "Since 1980, over 145 incidents have been documented of suction entrapment in swimming pools and spas, including 36 deaths of children."

True: We found that the senator’s backup information undercounted the 154 people, at least, who had been sucked into a U.S. pool or spa drain. And while she didn’t prove that 36 children died as a result, sources we culled suggested that at least 39 children had perished.

Each of four Republican aspirants for lieutenant governor also have PolitiFact report cards. (All told, we’ve checked more than 50 of their statements.) Click their names here to see each one: Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst; state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston; Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson; and Todd Staples, the state agriculture commissioner.

What else?