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Oh, our dear PolitiFact Georgia readers. Bless your hearts.
That’s not a socially polite insult. We have sincere concerns after hearing from a reader, alarmed at the outlandish statements posted on Twitter by "Rep. Steve Smith" of Valdosta.
"Please check out hate-filled (timeline) of @RepStevenSmith," the reader asked us. "How is a misogynist bigot of epic proportions allowed to serve? Dangerous."
Our worry is not with Smith’s timeline.
True, it is littered with (cough) liberal use of "boy" to demean those who try to engage and plenty of media baiting, along with the promised "partisan" thoughts of someone claiming Tea Party membership.
But our reader has, sadly, joined journalists Christiane Amanpour and Ezra Klein in becoming the latest victim of the parody Twitter account.
Simply: "Rep. Steven Smith" is not real. The account, and the Congressman, are fakes.
How do we know? We expect to hear protests from our bogus politico on Twitter, so let’s break down how you can trust us on this one.
Step One: Read Twitter
Smith’s Twitter bio is succinct and looks pretty official. It reads, "Republican Representative of Georgia's 15th Congressional District. Tea Party Patriot. Constitutionalist. Partisan."
It’s also worth noting that Smith’s followers on the account include a chief of staff, @TJMitchJohnson. That adds to credibility, right?
Step Two: Read some government stuff
We’re paid to do the research for you, true. But it’s not hard to find an official list of Congressional representatives from the Peach State.
Our friends at the government transparency website GovTrack have set up web pages showing the elected representation for every state.
Georgia, it shows, is represented by two Senators (like all the other states) and 14 members of Congress.
The Congressmen (Georgia has no female representatives) hail from districts made up of about 710,000 people each.
For those keeping score, then, there is no 15th district in Georgia. There are only 14.
Step Three: Find the real guy
A Congressman does of course represent Valdosta. His name is Austin Scott, a Republican whose 8th Congressional District stretches from that south Georgia city, through Scott’s hometown of Tifton and into middle Georgia.
Scott was elected in 2010, riding on an anti-Democratic sentiment that swept national elections that year and flipped control of the House from D to R.
While Scott is not a member of the Freedom Caucus that has pulled the GOP to the right in the past year, he is a clear conservative.
He has co-sponsored a bill to repeal Obamacare, and he earned a True on the Truth-O-Meter for his claim that 97 percent of Americans aren’t receiving the premium subsidies under that law.
Scott also has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge from the Americans for Tax Reform, promising to oppose any effort to raise taxes and has been especially vocal in his opposition to any new federal gun laws.
Scott’s main Twitter account (he also has a campaign account) focuses not only on some of those issues but also the more meat-and-potatoes work you’d expect, like Medicaid workshops in the district and a recent trip to a pecan farm.
Step Four: Never forget Google
Still not convinced? There is one other way to check your facts.
As anyone who has ever watched "Catfish" knows, you can look up your Cyrano, or anyone, in Google image.
When you drop the photo of the man claiming to be Steven Smith into the search engine, no name will appear.
Instead, it takes you to the website of a big-and-tall men’s store in New Hampshire using that photo.
But at least the store is called George’s. That’s almost like Georgia.
In that same way, Rep. Steven Smith is almost a Congressman.
The outrageous statements in question come from a parody account, not a real U.S. representative. How can someone like that serve?
The U.S. Constitution says the only rules to serve are to be at least 25, a citizen for seven years and a resident of the state electing you.
Of course, all those requirements mean you do have to be real.
We rate this as Pants on Fire.
"Rep. Steven Smith" Twitter page
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Political Insider blog, Nov. 19, 2013
GovTrack, Georgia state page, accessed Oct. 26, 2015
Pew Research Center, "What is the House Freedom Caucus, and who’s in it," Oct. 20, 2015
PolitiFact Georgia, "Deal’s support for T-SPLOST veers from tax pledge," June 8, 2012
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Little consensus on gun proposal," Jan. 17, 2013
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, official House of Representatives page
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, Twitter page
George’s Apparel blog, "Big guys have advantages," July 27, 2012
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