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Many political candidates try to portray their opponents as more radical than they really are. Republicans portray Democrats as left-wing and Democrats portray Republicans as right-wing.
In North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Ted Budd has accused Democrat Kathy Manning of being a "left-wing political insider" who was "hand-picked" by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
Budd, a first-term congressman from Davie County, has focused on Manning’s donations to Democrats. He has accused Manning of donating "nearly $1 million" — but his claims have varied.
In an interview for a McClatchy story published earlier this month, Budd said "nearly $1 million (of Manning’s money) has been given to Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein."
In the Spectrum News debate on Oct. 23, Budd said "Over the last 10 or so years, she and her husband donated nearly $1 million to Nancy Pelosi."
And on Oct. 24, Budd announced his launch of a TV ad that on the screen accuses Manning of donating "nearly $1 million to liberals." The actors say she gave "big money" to Pelosi and Clinton.
So which is it?
The candidates’ math
Has Manning given "nearly $1 million" to Pelosi? What about Pelosi, Boxer and Feinstein? Overall, has she donated nearly $1 million to liberals?
PolitiFact reached out to the Budd campaign for clarification on the claim. Budd’s claim relies on donations from Manning’s husband, Randall Kaplan, to get to what they consider to be nearly $1 million.
Together, they say Manning and Kaplan have given a combined $887,053 to liberal candidates and causes. Manning has given $307,428, they say, while Kaplan has given $579,625.
Meanwhile, the Manning campaign says she’s given $256,550. And Manning’s campaign opposes the notion that she and Kaplan’s respective donations should be counted together. But we’ll get back to that later.
What do campaign finance records show?
What records show
Donations are difficult to track to the exact dollar. Donors don’t always use the exact name when they sign a check — they may sometimes use a middle initial and sometimes not — and there’s sometimes more than one donor with the same name.
But a PolitiFact review of donations on the Federal Election Commission website and data provided by OpenSecrets.org, run by a nonprofit that tracks money in politics, found that each of Budd’s claims falls short.
To Pelosi specifically, FEC records show Manning and her husband have given a combined $3,000. Manning has given $1,500 — $1,000 in 2004 and $500 in 2002. Kaplan gave $1,000 in 2006 and $500 in 2002. To former Sen. Boxer and Sen. Feinstein, the couple has given a combined $2,250.
Obviously, the couple’s donations to that trio of Democrats comes nowhere near $1 million. So what about total donations?
The Center for Responsive Politics, which runs OpenSecrets.org, found that the couple has donated a combined $545,500 to federal candidates and political action committees. Manning has donated $196,950, while Kaplan has given $348,550.
For donations to state-level candidates and committees, PolitiFact consulted the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement website.
At the state level, the couple has donated a combined $224,021. Manning has given $46,796, while Kaplan has given $177,225.
Manning’s campaign opposes the notion that she and Kaplan’s respective donations should be counted together. Manning is successful independent of her husband and their political interests don’t always align, said Hailey Barringer, spokeswoman for Manning. Manning went to Harvard, then Michigan Law School and practiced immigration law in Greensboro before starting her own firm.
In some cases, they’ve shared the same political goals. Each has donated thousands to national and state party organizations. Each donated to Gov. Roy Cooper, Attorney General Josh Stein and former U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
But Kaplan has made donations to some candidates that Manning didn’t help and vice-versa.
Candidates that got money from Kaplan but not Manning include congressional candidate Ryan Watts, former NC Senate leader Marc Basnight and former Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.
Candidates that got money from Manning but not Kaplan include U.S. Rep. Alma Adams and the late Republican U.S. Rep. Howard Coble.
In total, the OpenSecrets.org and NC elections board data shows the couple has given a combined $769,521 in federal and state-level donations. Manning has given $243,746 and Kaplan has given $525,775.
Budd says Manning has given "nearly $1 million to liberals." That math relies on contributions by her husband. She hasn’t given anywhere close to that, doesn’t need to rely on her husband’s money to give to candidates, and their varied donations show they can have separate political interests. We rate this claim Mostly 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 campaign ad launched by Congressman Ted Budd, Republican from North Carolina.
Video of the Oct. 23 debate between Ted Budd and Kathy Manning on Spectrum News.
Story by The News & Observer, "Challenger turns health care fight personal in her congressional bid in NC," posted Oct. 16, 2018.
Email correspondence with Elizabeth Oglesby, spokeswoman for Ted Budd.
Email correspondence with Hailey Barringer, spokeswoman for Democrat Kathy Manning.
Telephone and email correspondence with Sarah Bryner, research director for the Center for Responsive Politics.
Telephone and email correspondence with Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the N.C. Board of Elections and Ethics Commission.
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