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Republican gubernatorial candidates John Cox and Travis Allen are competing for the conservative vote in California’s June primary.
As part of that competition, they’re trying to prove who has the toughest credentials on immigration. Or, in the case of a recent TV attack ad by the Cox campaign, disprove their opponents’ record on the issue.
Last week, we rated Mostly True Cox’s claim from the same ad that Allen, an Orange County assemblyman, donated to three of California’s top Democrats. We noted the donations took place when Allen was running his financial business full-time and before he ran for office.
In this fact-check, we’ll examine the ad’s separate allegation that "on the floor vote, Allen refused to join Republicans opposing driver licenses for illegal aliens."
The ad was paid for by John Cox for Governor 2018.
Did Allen, who has positioned himself as a staunch opponent of benefits for undocumented Californians, really miss this key vote?
Background on Republican rivals
Recent polls show increasing support for Cox, a wealthy San Diego businessman, who President Trump endorsed earlier this month. A survey released May 23 by the Public Policy Institute of California shows Gavin Newsom, the state’s lieutenant governor, leading Cox, 25 percent to 19 percent.
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was third, at 15 percent, followed by Allen with 11 percent, State Treasurer John Chiang at 9 percent and former state schools chief Delaine Eastin with 6 percent.
The top two candidates in the June 5 primary, regardless of party affiliation, will move on to the November runoff.
The claim in the Cox ad refers to votes on AB 60, which the California Legislature approved and Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed in 2013. Advocates for the law successfully argued it will make California’s roads safer by ensuring that many of the unauthorized immigrants who already drive have been properly trained and tested.
Critics argue AB 60 condones law-breaking, and some claim the licenses could be used to commit fraud and that it could increase security risks.
As of April 2018, the state had issued more than one million licenses under the law, which requires the new cards to display the words "Federal Limits Apply" in the top right corner. The license is for driving privileges only and not for federal use, such as boarding a plane. Nor does it allow undocumented Californians to vote, despite inflammatory claims to the contrary.
Legislative records show Allen and other Assembly Republicans voted against the measure during a floor vote on May 29, 2013.
But that wasn’t Allen’s final chance to weigh in on the bill.
During a final concurrence vote on September 12, 2013, records show no vote was recorded for Allen. The lawmaker was present at the Capitol that day, and voted on bills before and after the final decision on AB 60, according to records kept by the Assembly Journal. Allen’s vote would not have made the difference, as the bill passed 55 to 21.
Asked about this, Allen’s campaign spokeswoman pointed to the lawmaker’s May vote. She said he "missed" the final vote but did not elaborate on why he missed it.
John Cox’s campaign for governor claimed in a recent TV ad that Travis Allen "on the floor vote … refused to join Republicans opposing driver licenses for illegal aliens."
Legislative records show Allen voted against a bill that allowed undocumented Californians to apply for a state drivers license during a floor vote in the state Assembly in May 2013. They also show he missed a final vote against the same measure in September 2013, even though he was present at the Capitol that day.
There’s some truth to Cox’s claim. But it leaves out the key context about Allen’s earlier opposition, a detail that’s too important to omit.
We rate the claim Half True.
HALF TRUE – The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.
John Cox for Governor 2018, ‘Compare’ TV ad, accessed May 2018
Matt Shupe, spokesman for John Cox for Governor 2018, email exchange May 23
Maryann Marino, spokesman for Travis Allen for Governor 2018, email exchange May 24
California State Assembly Daily Journal, Sept. 12, 2013
California Legislative Information, AB 60 votes, accessed May 2018
PolitiFact California, Did a GOP candidate for California governor really donate to Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom?, May 25, 2018
Mercury-News, California surpasses 1 million driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, April 2, 2018
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