Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

PolitiFact Virginia's Top 10 claims from the gubernatorial race

Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Ken Cuccinelli shake hands before their final debate in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election. Photo by AP.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Ken Cuccinelli shake hands before their final debate in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election. Photo by AP.

As voters go the polls today to chose Virginia’s next governor, we thought we’d offer a review of some of the most interesting claims made by Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe: Says Virginia development officials "decided they didn’t want to bid on’ his company’s automobile camp.

Dec. 5, 2012, news conference.

In 2009, McAuliffe founded GreenTech Automotive, an electric car company, and voiced hopes of building a manufacturing plant in rural Virginia. Records show that officials at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership had "grave concerns" about the project, but never decided not to bid on it. VEDP asked GreenTech to explain its business plan in greater detail. The company never replied and opted to open a factory in Mississippi, which offered incentives to the venture. We rated McAuliffe’s claim False.

Cuccinelli:  "I’ve never supported legislation that invades people’s choices about contraception."

Aug. 2, 2013 speech.

Cuccinelli has never backed legislation that directly restricts birth control options. But he has supported personhood bills that define life as beginning at the moment of conception. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that personhood measures would outlaw oral contraceptives and intrauterine devices, which may prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Because personhood legislation could open legal avenues to challenge certain birth control devices, we rated Cuccinelli’s statement Half True.

McAuliffe: Says and investigative report concluded Cuccinelli "should have been prosecuted" for disclosure violations, but Virginia’s law was to weak.

July 20, 2013, debate.

The special prosecutor’s report said nothing of the kind. To the contrary, it completely cleared Cuccinelli of any wrongdoing in initially failing to disclose $12,000 in gifts he had accepted between 2009 and 2012. The unreported largesse included $5,000 gifts from Jonnie Williams, CEO of a troubled dietary supplement who also gave $150,000 in gifts and loans to Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family. We rated McAuliffe’s statement Pants on Fire.

Cuccinelli:  "There’s only one candidate under investigation -- Terry McAuliffe."

Aug. 22, 2013 TV ad.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into business practices by GreenTech, the electric car company McAuliffe founded and served as CEO until late last year. But McAuliffe says he’s never been contacted by the SEC and there’s no indication he’s a target of the probe. So the burden of proof fell on Cuccinelli to prove his charge and he came up empty. We rated the claim False.

McAuliffe:  Cuccinelli would "take money away from public schools to fund private schools."

Oct. 16, 2013, TV ad.

Cuccinelli wants to give options parents of children who attend failing schools -- including transferring their children to a better public school or receiving state tax credits that would pay for private school.  

There are six failing schools in Virginia this year and, in the unlikely scenario that all of their students transferred to a private academy, the entire cost of the tax credit would be $16.9 million. Cuccinelli says he wouldn’t take the money from the K-12 budget and, even if he did, it would amount to three-tenths of 1 percent of the state’s funding to public schools. We rated McAuliffe’s claim Mostly False.

Cuccinelli: McAuliffe "wants to raise your taxes by $1,700 to pay for his infinite promises."

Oct. 24, 2103 debate.

Cuccinelli first assumes that some aspirational goals McAuliffe has set -- such as eliminating student debt for college graduates, raising teachers' pay to the national average and increasing public school funding to pre-recession highs -- are promises he will carry out in his first year in office. Then, Cuccinelli assumes some worst-case financial scenarios to come up with the tax estimate to pay for the programs. We rated his statement False.

McAuliffe: "Cuccinelli voted against making it a misdemeanor to carry a missile into an airport terminal."

Aug. 23, 2013 tweet.

McAuliffe’s tweet included a photo an airport sign with the silhouette of a loaded missile launcher on it.  To support this claim, McAuliffe points to a 2004 bill that banned bringing "a gun or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile or projectile of any kind" into an airport terminal.

But the word "missile" is not defined in state code. According to case law, it could mean something as minor as a cup of soda thrown at somebody, and it can mean other things, such as rocks or bullets. During the General Assembly’s debate on the bill, the subject of military missiles never came up. There’s a trace of truth in McAuliffe’s distorted claim, so we rated it Mostly False.

Cuccinelli: McAuliffe is "the person who invented the scheme to rent out the Lincoln Bedroom."

Aug. 10, 2013 speech.

Bill Clinton, in a 1997 deposition, said it was his brainchild to reward top Democratic contributors with a White House sleepover. McAuliffe, as Clinton’s chief fundraiser, backed the idea and recommended some donors for the stays. We rated Cuccinelli’s claim False.

McAuliffe: The state GOP ticket "says their top priority is a career-long mission to outlaw abortion in all cases and ban some common forms of birth control."

June 12, 2013 speech.

All three members of the GOP ticket are staunchly opposed to abortion. But they never said their top priority is to end the procedure; they said their No. 1 goal is to create jobs. We rated this False.

Cuccinelli: "Terry McAuliffe cashed in, walking away with millions" from the demise of Global Crossings.

Sept. 6, 2013 TV ad.

Global Crossings was a start-up fiber optic company that went bust in 2002, laying off more than 10,000 employees. Four years earlier, when the stock was near its all-time high, McAuliffe sold half of his holdings in the company for an $8 million profit; he held on to the rest of his shares until they were worthless. McAuliffe was not involved in the management of the company and his stock sale was not connected to Global’s crash. We rated Cuccinelli’s statement False.