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The U.S. House chamber, with members socially distanced, shortly after passage of a $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill on March 27, 2020. (C-SPAN) The U.S. House chamber, with members socially distanced, shortly after passage of a $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill on March 27, 2020. (C-SPAN)

The U.S. House chamber, with members socially distanced, shortly after passage of a $2 trillion-plus coronavirus relief bill on March 27, 2020. (C-SPAN)

By D.L. Davis April 3, 2020

Given the massive impact of the coronavirus, and efforts by elected officials to fight the global pandemic, it should come as little surprise that a virus-related item topped PolitiFact Wisconsin’s list of most-clicked items for March 2020.

Here is a look at our monthly "High Five."

1.  Kenosha Democratic Party: "WI is the ONLY state where all Republicans voted against protecting its citizens." 

This Facebook post followed approval of an early emergency measure that was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 18, 2020. The bill passed 363-40 in the House and 90-8 in the Senate. 

Indeed, all five Republicans in the Wisconsin delegation cast a "no" vote, while all four state Democrats voted for the bill. 

That clean sweep of Republican "no" votes was unique around the country, but it  was a bit of an exaggeration to summarize their positions as a vote "against protecting (Wisconsin) citizens." 

We rated the claim Mostly True.

2.  State Rep. Gae Magnafici, R-Dresser: "More people have died from knowing Hillary" than coronavirus.

When we contacted Magnafici’s office about the tweet, there was no mention of Benghazi, email servers or other popular Hillary Clinton conspiracy fodder. 

Instead, a staffer labeled it "clearly a joke." 

The staffer didn’t respond when asked what in the context of the tweet by Magnafici -- who was elected in November 2018 after a 35-year career as a nurse -- would have signaled it was meant to be considered a joke. At the time, the death toll for the coronavirus stood at 19 in the U.S., but was already well over 3,000 people worldwide.

Comparing that to people who died due to any connection with Clinton is, obviously, ridiculous.

We rated the claim Pants on Fire.

3.  Republican State Leadership Committee: Dane County Judge Jill Karofsky, a challenger for a seat on the state Supreme Court, as a prosecutor "went easy on" a Madison man in a 1999 sexual assault case.  

In a TV ad, the group claimed Karofsky was "soft" as a prosecutor because she allowed the man to get away with no jail time. But Karofsky didn’t touch the case until more than a year after a plea agreement reducing the charges and the sentence imposing no jail time. 

The ad was based on sloppy research that misunderstood the meaning of the online case records.

We rated this claim Pants on Fire.

4.  Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester: Claims a video shows Joe Biden saying "we can only re-elect Donald Trump."

The video, created March 7, 2020, by President Trump’s campaign, was shared by the president and thousands of others — including Vos, who attached this critique to his retweet:

"Omg. We all stumble once in awhile but how can the media ignore this kind of stuff EVERY single day?"

The implication was that the video shows the media should have covered Biden’s comment, which came at rally that day in Kansas City. Here’s what Biden says, with pauses noted by an ellipsis.

"We cannot get re-elect … We cannot win this re-election… Excuse me — we can only re-elect Donald Trump if in fact we get engaged in this circular firing squad here."

The Trump team’s version cut off after the word "Trump." So Biden was shown saying, "We can only re-elect Donald Trump" — the opposite of what was actually stated. 

We rated Vos’s claim Mostly False.

5.  Former Gov. Scott Walker: "Bernie (Sanders) is a Communist." 

Walker also made the claim in a column and several other tweets, one of which invoked Sanders’ oft-cited Soviet Union honeymoon. Sanders, of course, is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, though he trails Biden in the delegate count.

Sanders — an independent in the U.S. Senate — describes himself as a democratic socialist, and has declared he is not a communist.

Experts pointed to several clear dividing lines between Sanders’ philosophy and communism — while unanimously calling Walker’s label an exaggeration.

Socialism, as it plays out today in some European countries, is generally associated with a large social welfare state, including free healthcare and education, generous pensions and general "cradle to grave" security.

Communism on the other hand typically involves a one-party government that owns all property and controls the means of production. In other words, the government exerts a great deal of control over both economic and individual behavior.

Sanders isn’t pushing for authoritarian rule, government ownership of all private property or an end to capitalism.

We rated Walker’s claim False.


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PolitiFact Wisconsin's 'High Five' for March 2020