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Our file on Reince Priebus, Donald Trump's choice for chief

President-elect Donald Trump, shown here on election night 2016 with Reince Priebus, has named Priebus his chief of staff. (Getty Images) President-elect Donald Trump, shown here on election night 2016 with Reince Priebus, has named Priebus his chief of staff. (Getty Images)

President-elect Donald Trump, shown here on election night 2016 with Reince Priebus, has named Priebus his chief of staff. (Getty Images)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher November 14, 2016

Reince Priebus (like "pints" and PREE-bus) may not be as well as known as fellow Kenosha, Wis., natives Orson Welles ("Citizen Kane") or Hillary Clinton supporter Mark Ruffalo ("The Hulk").

But as the choice of President-elect Donald Trump to be White House chief of staff, his profile in American politics is about to hit the big screen.

On Nov. 13, 2016, five days after his historic election win, Trump named Priebus to what some say is the second most important job in the world.

The 44-year-old lawyer, a piano player and self-described political nerd, led the Wisconsin GOP before becoming chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2011. He will assume his new post after Trump is inaugurated in January 2017.

Of the 24 statements made by Priebus that have been rated by PolitiFact, 13 were rated Mostly False (2), False (10) or Pants on Fire (1); and 11 were rated True (1), Mostly True (2) or Half True (8).

Here’s a look at seven Priebus statements from the 2016 campaign, five of which attacked Clinton or her family’s foundation, and three of his earlier claims, including one about voter fraud and one about the Super Bowl.

2016 campaign claims

1. "Her campaign and her supporters in her campaign were the ones that borne out the birther movement."

Half True: It had been reported by several news outlets that Clinton supporters sent emails accusing President Barack Obama of being born outside the United States. However, there was no evidence that Clinton or her official campaign had anything to do with it.

2. Clinton "is the one that labeled African-American youth as ‘superpredators.’"

Mostly True: In the midst of championing her husband’s 1994 crime legislation, Clinton did use the term "superpredator" when referring to "gangs of kids." She did not specifically label superpredators as African-American, but the context of her speech and her subsequent apology decades later suggests it was a reasonable inference.

3. Clinton's Iran nuclear deal "lined the pockets of the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism with your money."

Mostly False: The United States labels Iran as the top state sponsor of terrorism. But the deal was struck 2.5 years after Clinton, who was the secretary of state, left the Obama administration. And the vast majority of the tens of billions of dollars that Iran gets is not American money, but its own assets, which were frozen by the United States and other countries that imposed sanctions on Iran.

4. Clinton took "money from kings of Saudi Arabia and Morocco and Oman and Yemen."

Half True: The monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Oman had contributed to the Clinton Foundation, but Yemen, which does not have a king, had not, when we did this check in April 2015. And although Priebus’ claim was made during a discussion of the foundation as well as contributions to political candidates, his phrasing could have left the impression that Clinton herself, rather than the foundation, received the money.

5. "The fact is" the Clinton Foundation has "got about 80 percent in overhead and 20 percent of the money is actually getting into the places it should."

False: Only a small amount of the donations collected by the Clinton Foundation are awarded as grants to other nonprofit groups. But it spends between 80 and 90 percent on program services, which experts say is the standard in the industry to define charitable works. And only between 10 and 20 percent is spent on management of the foundation and fundraising activities, which is tagged as "overhead."

6. No one from the Bush family attended the 2012 Republican National Convention and "there was no President Bush" at the 2008 convention.

False: Jeb Bush addressed delegates at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. In 2008, George W. Bush addressed delegates via a live video feed, but former President George H.W. Bush and former first ladies Laura and Barbara Bush all attended. A Bush had spoken at every RNC since at least 1980.

7. "What the facts say" is ... "the best scenario for kids is a loving mom and dad."

False: The limited pieces of research that appeared to support Priebus’ claim have been called into question. And overall, scholarly research showed that what matters for the well-being of children is the quality and stability of the parenting, rather than the parents’ particular sex, gender or sexual orientation.

Earlier claims

1. Obama has "the worst record of any president when it comes to putting America deeper in debt."

Half True: On Obama’s watch, debt as a share of gross domestic product rose far faster than it did during any prior presidency, as of when this fact check was done in December 2015. But if you look at the current amount of debt compared to where he started, the rise was not as fast as it was under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, two Republican predecessors. And while presidents bear some responsibility for debt accumulation, much of the equation is out of their control.

2. Because of voter fraud, Republican candidates "need to do a point or two better" to win statewide elections in Wisconsin.

False: Past reports have highlighted flaws in the city of Milwaukee, including cases of fraudulent votes, we found in this 2012 fact check. But Priebus made a specific numerical claim -- that a Republican candidate, to compensate for fraudulent votes, would need to get 1 to 2 percentage points worth of additional votes in order to win a statewide election. And he did not provide information that supported the claim.

3. The Republican National Convention "is a Super Bowl times four."

False: Though you can debate about the overall economic impact of mega-events like the Super Bowl or a national political convention, PolitiFact National found in this 2011 fact check, there's no debate about the relative size of one compared to the other. They're about the same.

Go here to see Priebus’ complete file.

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Our file on Reince Priebus, Donald Trump's choice for chief