Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Chain emails claim this picture's 'worth $678 million'

The chain emails PolitiFact Texas received included this photo, which FactCheck.org wrote shows Toni Townes-Whitley and her husband, John Whitley, with Michelle and President Barack Obama at a 2010 White House party.
The chain emails PolitiFact Texas received included this photo, which FactCheck.org wrote shows Toni Townes-Whitley and her husband, John Whitley, with Michelle and President Barack Obama at a 2010 White House party.

Texas readers asked us about chain emails on the contract to build Healthcare.gov going to a company linked to a Princeton classmate of Michelle Obama. FactCheck.org and Snopes.com have taken a hard look at several claims in such emails they received.

Was CGI Federal given a no-bid contract to build Healthcare.gov and has it profited to the tune of $678 million?

Our colleagues say no. FactCheck and Snopes supply a number of details on the process and CGI’s contract that don’t match up with the emails’ claims.

The fact-checkers wrote that Toni Townes-Whitley is a senior vice president at CGI Federal who graduated from Princeton the same year as Obama (1985); they go into detail on possible connections between the two and write that they posed for a photo with their husbands at a 2010 White House holiday party.

Snopes and Fact-Check cast doubt on the $678 million figure, which Snopes said "appears to be mistakenly based on a figure that represented the total amount of money CGI had received for all of its government contracts related to health care for the previous several years." FactCheck wrote that a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman said Nov. 1 that the Healthcare.gov project’s budget was "in the neighborhood of $630 million."

Both stories look into other statements in the emails, as well, such as whether CGI "donated $47 million to Obama's campaign." With a tip of our fact-hunting hat, we’ll send you directly to our colleagues to read the rest of their findings:  Snopes’ Dec. 6 piece and FactCheck’s Dec. 10 item.