Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

McAuliffe, Cuccinelli recycling dubious claims

 Ken Cuccinelli, left, and Terry McAuliffe are filling the airwaves with negative ads.
Ken Cuccinelli, left, and Terry McAuliffe are filling the airwaves with negative ads.

It’s recycling time for Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

The gubernatorial candidates are airing ads and making public statements based on prior claims that we have fact-checked.

Here’s a look:

McAuliffe: Cuccinelli’s education plan would force local communities to "cut 6,500 teachers."

These words flash on the screen of a TV ad, with a citation from the Virginia Education Association. The VEA, which endorsed McAuliffe, says Cuccinelli’s plan to cut taxes by $1.4 billion could require a massive layoff of teachers. The VEA bases its claim on an assumption that Cuccinelli would not keep his vow to offset the cost of the tax cuts, largely by eliminating  loopholes.

Cuccinelli has not identified which loopholes he would close, saying he would appoint a commission to identify the least efficient tax breaks. But he’s promised he will not pursue tax cuts if he can’t work out an agreement with the legislature to save an equal amount by closing loopholes and limiting the increase in future spending.

We’ve rated a similar claim by McAuliffe on teacher layoffs as False.

Cuccinelli: "Ken Cuccinelli has never supported limiting access to contraception and never will."

In a TV ad, Cuccinelli defends against attacks that he‘s worked against women’s health. As a state senator, Cuccinelli never voted to explicitly ban birth control. But Cuccinelli has co-sponsored personhood legislation that sought to provide human embryos with legal rights. Some abortion opponents believe life begins at the moment of fertilization and consider anything that prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus to be abortion.

Although birth control pills mainly work by preventing the release of an egg, they can make the lining of the uterus inhospitable to implantation after it is fertilized. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said last year that personhood laws threaten certain forms of contraception. But if this is so, personhood legislation might not survive a legal challenge because the Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that couples have a right of access to contraception.

In our check on Cuccinelli’s claim, we gave him a Half True.

McAuliffe: Cuccinelli "tried to defund Planned Parenthood and brought Virginia’s government to a standstill" in 2008.

This radio ad resembles a McAuliffe charge that Cuccinelli once "tried to shut down" state government.

The claim centers on a 2008 budget amendment Cuccinelli offered in the state Senate that would have ended taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood. The measure bogged the Senate down about four hours. Later that same day, the Senate approved a budget bill that contained Cuccinelli’s provision.

The Planned Parenthood amendment was not in the final version of the budget, which was signed by then-Gov. Tim Kaine 51 days before it went into effect. So what McAuliffe called an effort to close state government was nothing more than the introduction of legislation that produced a few hours of debate. We rated McAuliffe’s original claim Pants on Fire.

Cuccinelli: "This is a guy (McAuliffe) who, going back 20 years, came up with the idea of renting out the Lincoln Bedroom."

This statement, which Cuccinelli made at a recent University of Richmond candidates forum, refers to a controversial practice during President Bill Clinton’s tenure where Democratic donors stayed at the White House, including the Lincoln Bedroom.

At the end of 1994, when McAuliffe was finance chairman for the Democratic National Committee, he met Clinton to discuss ways to energize the president’s demoralized supporters after crushing mid-term elections in which Democrats lost control of the House and Senate. A week later, McAuliffe sent a memo suggesting Clinton meet donors at various functions, such as meals, coffees, golf games and morning jogs.

McAuliffe’s memo didn’t mention overnight stays at the White House. Clinton said he came up with the idea to have donors stay at the White House, though he denied this was done to boost contributions. A Republican congressional investigation, however, said the practice was indeed a key fundraising venue for the DNC. McAuliffe strongly backed the sleepovers and recommended heavy hitters who could attend. But there’s no evidence he was the one who came up with the idea to hold the sleepovers.

We rated the claim False.