Six fact-checks over Texas, our reader favorites in June

Here's the portion of a June 2015 installment of Doonesbury that led us to checking a claim about Greg Abbott. That check was our No. 1 online attraction in June.
Here's the portion of a June 2015 installment of Doonesbury that led us to checking a claim about Greg Abbott. That check was our No. 1 online attraction in June.

In case U.S. troops impose martial law, an installment of Doonesbury suggested, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott activated the Texas State Guard.

HALF TRUE, we concluded, in that Abbott told the Guard to monitor the exercise set to start this month though far as we could tell, no troops were dispatched or activated. It was also worth noting that Abbott had said Texans’ safety and rights were not threatened by the federal maneuvers.

That fact check drew the most reader views online in June.

Others in the Texas top six:

  • Gary Painter, the sheriff of Midland County, told a local reporter: "We’re the only nation in the world that does not use the military to secure our border." PANTS ON FIRE! We didn’t have to go far to prove Painter wrong. Canada turned out to be among many countries that rely on federal patrols, not the military, to handle border oversight, just as the U.S. does. The sheriff might’ve seen some border-guarder troops in war-torn lands in TV news reports, but we didn't see that a a factual basis for his claim.
  • Gov. Abbott made a curious claim after signing a measure into law creating the Texas Bullion Depository. Abbott said the law "will repatriate $1 billion of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve in New York to Texas." MOSTLY FALSE: The law doesn’t repatriate bullion. In addition, an arm of the University of Texas System has around $660 million in gold bullion (not $1 billion) and it's stored in a New York bank, not the Federal Reserve.
  • Our 2014 check of the U.S. Census Bureau's claim that the law requires Americans to participate in the American Community Survey has proved a continuing favorite. MOSTLY TRUE, we concluded. Federal law mandates participation, but the bureau also doesn't seek to penalize individuals who fail to participate. The reality appeared to be that recipients could refuse to comply.
  • Austin American-Statesman reporter Asher Price's look into Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman's claim about climate change also was a June hit. Zimmerman said that as every child learns, the sun warms the Earth—and, he said, carbon dioxide does not. MOSTLY FALSE: The sun certainly warms the Earth. But Zimmerman’s bigger point--discounting the role of carbon dioxide in climate change--disregards international scientific consensus.
  • Credit the debunkists at Snopes.com for our No. 6 June favorite. In 2014, we recapped, Snopes.com found no merit to a claim that a Texas prisoner facing death by lethal injection requested a child for his last meal. We asked the originators of this falsehood, which came from a Belgian website, why they did it. "Hello," someone with the site replied, "Because that was fun."

Hear anything we should probe? Write us here or comment on Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading.