Fact-checking Donald Trump's Tim Kaine attack on 'Meet the Press'

NBC's Chuck Todd interviews Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the July 24 edition of "Meet the Press" about Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders and his comments about NATO. (NBC)
NBC's Chuck Todd interviews Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the July 24 edition of "Meet the Press" about Tim Kaine, Bernie Sanders and his comments about NATO. (NBC)

Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton spent the weekend between political party conventions knocking the other nominee’s choice in a running mate.

As Clinton attacked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over education, Trump painted Clinton’s pick, former governor and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., as corrupt for accepting "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in gifts as governor from 2006 to 2010.

Trump compared Kaine to his successor, former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, saying McDonnell nearly went to prison for accepting far less. 

McDonnell stood trial for accepting $177,000 in undisclosed personal gifts from an entrepreneur who was seeking business with the state. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned McDonnell’s bribery convictions in June.

"Bob McDonnell took a fraction of what Kaine took," said Trump, the GOP presidential nominee. "And I think, to me, it’s a big problem. Now, how do you take all these gifts? Hundreds of thousands of dollars."

McDonnell actually accepted more gifts than Kaine, and there were more problems on top of that. Trump’s statement rates Pants on Fire!

Kaine accepted $162,083 in gifts as lieutenant governor and governor, all of which was disclosed as required by state law.

Most of the money was for political travel, such as $45,000 that Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign paid for Kaine’s airline and lodging expenses as a surrogate speaker. Kaine also accepted some personal gifts. The largest was use of a political donor’s home in the Caribbean for a vacation shortly after Kaine was elected governor in 2005. On a disclosure form, Kaine estimated the in-kind value of the lodging at $18,000. 

All of these gifts were disclosed. There have been no allegations that Kaine accepted undisclosed gifts.

McDonnell disclosed accepting $275,707 in gifts as attorney general and governor, according to the online files of the Virginia Public Access Project. And there was another $177,000 that he didn’t disclose.

The undisclosed gifts and special loans were from a businessman who was seeking the state’s help in marketing a dietary supplement. These gifts included a $6,000 Rolex watch; use of the businessman’s vacation home at Smith Mountain Lake; $15,000 for the catering bill at the wedding of McDonnell’s oldest daughter, as well as a $10,000 wedding check to her; and a designer gown for McDonnell’s wife. 

All told, McDonnell’s disclosed and undisclosed gifts come to $452,707, almost three times as much as Kaine. 

Education spending

On the Democratic side, Clinton on Saturday at Florida International University contrasted Kaine’s gubernatorial record with Pence. 

"And while Mike Pence slashed education funding in Indiana — and gave more tax cuts to the wealthiest — Tim Kaine cut his own salary and invested in education from pre-K through college and beyond," Clinton said.

For this fact-check, we focused on whether Pence "slashed" education funding as Kaine invested in it.

This frame-up on education policy doesn’t hold up, so it rates False.

In fact, Indiana’s education funding has been on the rise every year since Pence took office in 2013.

Not adjusting for inflation, Indiana state spending for K-12 and higher education combined hit record highs in 2014 through the current year, according to data compiled by Larry DeBoer, a professor of agricultural economics at Indiana’s Purdue University. 

When adjusted for inflation, the rise isn’t so dramatic, but it’s still there.

The Clinton campaign pointed that Pence asked universities to cut their state spending by 2 percent in fiscal year 2014 to account for a revenue shortfall. And the 2015 state budget took money from some urban school districts and redistributed them to suburban districts, which some commentators saw as disproportionately benefiting wealthier students.

Education spending in Virginia actually went down under Kaine, who served as governor from 2006 through 2010. 

In raw dollars, state spending on K-12 and higher education under Kaine increased in 2007, 2008 and 2009, to a high of $7.5 billion, according to figures compiled by Chris Duncombe, a policy analyst at the Commonwealth Institute, a liberal Virginia think tank. There was a very slight dip in 2008 when adjusting the figures for inflation.

Then in 2010, it fell to $6.8 billion, and that includes $365 million from the federal government to support the economic recovery.

"Sen. Kaine was dealt a poor hand to fund public education, or anything else for that matter," said Richard Salmon, a professor emeritus and expert in public education at Virginia Tech.