Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Our December High Five: Walker again tops the list

Gov. Scott Walker was a popular figure in December -- at least as measured by clicks on our web page.
Gov. Scott Walker was a popular figure in December -- at least as measured by clicks on our web page.

For the second month in a row, Gov. Scott Walker dominated the attention of PolitiFact Wisconsin readers.

In December 2013, four of the five PolitiFact Wisconsin articles that got the most page-views were articles about Walker. His new book, "Unintimidated," gave us plenty to examine.

So here are the High Five, which is rounded out with a claim about just how wealthy the heirs of Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame are.

1. Walker’s college days

Our December article investigating Walker’s time at Marquette University looked at how and why he left school and what role he had in a student government controversy. After the item was published, the state Democratic Party removed from its website the accusation that Walker was kicked out of school and student elections.

2. Wal-Mart Waltons’ wealth

Ahead of the annual Black Friday shopping day in late November, the liberal One Wisconsin Now advocacy group stated: "The Walton family, which owns Wal-Mart, controls a fortune equal to the wealth of the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined." We rated the statement True.

An economist using the latest figures available determined the Waltons’ wealth in 2010 was valued at $89.5 billion -- equal to the entire bottom 41.5 percent of American families.

Important to remember: The statement was about wealth, not income. A person can have a big income but negative wealth if, for example, their debts outweigh assets, such as their home and savings accounts.

3. Blocking and rocking

Our final Truth-O-Meter item of 2013 was also popular.

In his memoir, released in November 2013, Walker said that during a 2011 demonstration, protesters surrounded, blocked and rocked his vehicle. Unable to find any evidence that the demonstration became that unruly, we rated Walker’s claim False.

4. Public vs. private

Reflecting on Act 10, his law that did away with most collective bargaining powers for most public employees, Walker said most Wisconsinites in the private sector pay 20 to 25 percent "of their health insurance," while "most of our public employees are still paying about 12 to 13 percent."

We rated the statement Mostly True. The available figures indicate many if not most public employees are paying at or less than 12 percent of their premiums, and Walker was right on the private-sector workers part of his claim.

5. Worst recovery

In his book, Walker wrote: "We are experiencing the worst economic recovery America has ever had." That earned him a False.

The jobs recovery was slower in previous recessions, including the Great Depression. Economic output is a little less cut and dried because the Depression was so severe that the bounce back was more pronounced.

We welcome suggestions for statements that we should consider fact checking:

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