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Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd is accusing his Democratic opponent Kathy Manning of benefiting from a development in Greensboro.
Budd represents North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, which covers much of the Greensboro-High Point area as well as the mostly rural area south of Winston-Salem and north of Charlotte. Manning is an attorney, and Budd has criticized her for donating more than $500,000 to the Democratic Party and its candidates.
A recent Budd ad, though vague on details, accuses Manning of profiting off a government project.
"A parking deck that nobody needed, benefiting a luxury hotel and Kathy Manning," a narrator says in the ad. "$30 million of your tax dollars plus $2.3 million a year to Kathy Manning and her husband, filling the Manning’s swanky hotel and their own French castle."
It concludes: "From her castle, it’s no surprise Queen Kathy doesn’t care about doubling parking rates for workers and commuters because Kathy Manning makes government work for her and we pay the price."
Manning called on Budd to remove the ad because, she says, it’s nearly identical to a video ad by the America First Action Super PAC that was removed from a pair of Triad-area radio stations.
PolitiFact contacted the Budd campaign about the claim. Budd’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Oglesby, cited several stories about the Westin Hotel being built in Greensboro by Elm Street LLC. Randall Kaplan, Manning’s husband, is a part of the group.
But those stories don’t support the ad’s claims.
About the project
Kaplan is described as a leader of Elm Street LLC, which is developing the Westin Hotel project. The city of Greensboro agreed to reimburse developers up to $30 million to build a parking deck adjoining the hotel, the Greensboro News & Record reported.
The deck is expected to be six stories tall and have 850 parking spaces, according to Jake Keys, communications manager for the city of Greensboro.
The $30 million isn’t pure profit for developers. It’s to pay developers to build the deck. That includes material, labor and other costs.
"Under the reimbursement agreement, the developer will build a new public parking deck for the City in conjunction with the development of their hotel project. Once complete, the City will fully own and operate the new public parking deck," Keys said in an email.
The city would own the deck and spend an estimated $2.6 million a year to maintain it and pay down the debt, according to the city’s website. The operating cost will include general deck maintenance, cleaning it and keeping the lights on, Keys said. The city would raise yearly parking spot rental rates from $65 to $128 by 2025, according to another News & Record story provided by the Budd campaign.
But that doesn’t go to Kaplan’s group, either, Keys said.
"The City will maintain the deck, thus any amount (whether it is $2.3M or much less) will be completely an internal expense of the City paid for through revenues associated with the deck," he wrote. "In the end, the hotel will pay for parking spaces in the City owned and operated deck just as any other business or individual."
Whatever money Kaplan does receive from the project will be donated to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the foundation announced on Aug. 21.
"The donations will be used to support a range of charitable programs, including economic and workforce development, health care, education, arts, poverty alleviation and social services in the Central Piedmont region of North Carolina and elsewhere," the foundation wrote on its website.
Budd’s ad said Kathy Manning got $30 million "of your tax dollars plus $2.3 million a year" from a luxury hotel and parking lot. While Manning’s husband was involved in the project, Manning was not. And the $30 million represents the entire cost of the parking deck project — not gross profit for Manning or her husband. In fact, Kaplan is donating his profits. And the $2.3 million isn’t going to Manning or her husband’s group, either. We rate this claim False.
This story was produced by the North Carolina Fact-Checking Project, a partnership of McClatchy Carolinas, the Duke University Reporters’ Lab and PolitiFact. The NC Local News Lab Fund and the International Center for Journalists provide support for the project, which shares fact-checks with newsrooms statewide.
Video of Ted Budd (R-NC) attack ad on Democrat Kathy Manning.
Email correspondence with Elizabeth Oglesby, spokeswoman for Congressman Ted Budd.
Stories by the Greensboro News & Record, "Despite accusations and threats, Greensboro council votes to build downtown parking decks," published Dec. 20, 2017; "Monthly parking fees in downtown Greensboro could almost double by 2025," published Dec. 26, 2017; "Fact-checking a fact sheet on proposed Westin Hotel," published Jan. 8, 2018.
A fact sheet on the downtown Greensboro parking decks produced by the City of Greensboro.
A July 17, 2018 update on the downtown Greensboro parking deck project posted on the City of Greensboro's website.
Email correspondence with Jack Keys, spokesman for the City of Greensboro.
Blog post by the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, "Donor story: Randall Kaplan...Honor thy mother and father," posted Aug. 21, 2018.
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