Friday, December 19th, 2014

Fact-checking Georgia’s Republican primary contest for U.S. Senate

Republican candidates for U.S. Senate debated in Georgia on May. 11 in Atlanta. (AP Photo)
Republican candidates for U.S. Senate debated in Georgia on May. 11 in Atlanta. (AP Photo)

PolitiFact Georgia has been fact-checking the U.S. Senate race to replace incumbent Sen. Saxby Chambliss, who is retiring. Among the candidates are several members of Congress, a business executive and a former secretary of state. Here’s our rundown of some of the more interesting fact-checks in the race; read more at PolitiFact Georgia.

Immigration perks. Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel used Twitter back in July to denounce a 1,000-plus-page immigration bill, saying it was filled with rewards for special interests, yet it does not even secure the border.

The Senate bill is "filled with things like rewards for au pair agencies, Alaskan seafood processors and Vegas casinos," Handel tweeted.

She’s right that industry lobbyists successfully fought for such deals to be included in the law. For example, one provision designated seafood processing as a shortage occupation, thus making it eligible for longer-term guest workers under a new visa program.  

PolitiFact Georgia rated Handel’s statement as True.

Conservative enough? U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, a tea party favorite, has been clear that he’s willing to go against his own Republican Party when it’s not sufficiently conservative. He said in March that his primary opponents have been desperately trying to match his conservative record.

"It’s become a joke in Congress how Dr. (Phil) Gingrey and Mr. (Jack) Kingston have been following my votes," Broun said. "They’ve even changed votes to what I voted, multiple times. Members of Congress are laughing about it."

We reviewed the votes and found that in general, Broun, Gingrey and Kingston have voted the same way all but a handful of times since 2013.

Broun cited one example concerning Kingston and a vote on Ukraine. But we didn’t find enough consistent vote-switching to make for a pattern. We rated Broun’s claim Mostly False.

Counting the uninsured. U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Savannah, has attacked the federal health care law, saying in March, "There are still more people uninsured today than when (Barack) Obama was elected president."

Kingston based his claim on a nationwide Gallup poll on America’s uninsured, his staff said. The poll showed 15.4 percent of Americans were uninsured during the first quarter of 2009. When he made his remarks, it showed 15.9 percent of Americans are uninsured. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. That seemed more like a wash.

Other polls we looked at then showed  a slight increase since 2008, although the numbers are close or within the margin of error. We rated Kingston’s claim Half True.

CEO for Dollar General. David Perdue has been running on his business background as former chief executive officer for Dollar General stores. Dollar General "added 2,500 stores and 20,000 jobs" during his four-year tenure as CEO, he said in February.

Perdue joined the company in 2003 and left in 2007. The company’s annual reports from that time noted the company’s ambitious plans to open 600 to 800 stores a year. In most years during Perdue’s tenure, Dollar General exceeded those projections.

On Feb. 28, 2003, Dollar General had 6,192 stores and an estimated 53,500 full-time and part-time employees. On March 4, 2007, the company had 8,260 stores and about 69,500 full-time and part-time employees. That’s a four-year increase of nearly 2,100 stores and 16,000 workers. We rated Perdue’s claim Mostly True.

Opposing Common Core. A website called "The David Perdue Files" attacked Perdue for not  being conservative enough. One of its claims was that Perdue supports the Common Core, a set of educational guidelines aimed at creating uniformed standards for student proficiency in several subjects.

Perdue said in interviews that he supported the initial intent of Common Core as a way for states to set their own educational goals. Perdue has also said he is so concerned about federal involvement in the effort that he has soured on the details and now opposes it. We rated the website attack on Perdue as Mostly False.