PolitiFact Florida Top 5 in April 2016
When Gov. Rick Scott walked into a Starbucks in Gainesville, he got an unexpected jolt when a customer attacked his record on spending for health care and Planned Parenthood.
Scott fired back by defending his jobs record.
The exchange, in which heckler Cara Jennings called Scott an "a------" drew more than 2.3 million hits on YouTube, made national news and led our fact-checks in April.
Other statements that drew in readers were by Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, who is running for U.S. Senate; and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
Here’s a look at PolitiFact Florida’s most clicked fact-checks in April counting down to the most popular:
5. Corey Lewandowski says, "The chairman of the party of Florida, who is an avid and outward supporter of Marco Rubio, gets to appoint 30 of those delegates." That’s not correct; Republican state party chairman Blaise Ingoglia doesn’t get to appoint delegates. However, he gets to recommend 15 delegates to the state party’s executive board, which then takes a vote. So Lewandowski doubled the number and exaggerated Ingoglia’s power. Most of the 99 delegates are chosen by party leaders in congressional districts. Also, Lewandowski has no proof that Ingoglia is an "avid and outward supporter" of Rubio’s presidential bid. (Rubio suspended his campaign after losing the Florida primary in March.) Ingoglia donated $1,250 to Rubio when he was a Senate candidate or a senator, but that was years before Rubio ran for president. We rate this claim False.
4. Bernie Sanders says he "fundamentally changed the lives" of Immokalee farm workers in Florida for the better. This is partially accurate. Sanders helped give national publicity to the struggles of Immokalee tomato pickers in 2008 including by holding a Senate hearing. About two years later, the workers reached an agreement with the growers. Sanders should get some credit, although it’s likely that the agreement could have been reached without his efforts. Whether the agreement "fundamentally changed the lives" of the workers is difficult to quantify. The agreement included an increase for purchasers that goes toward pickers, but it’s unclear on average how many dollars more each picker earns per week as a result of it. We rated this statement Half True.
3. Donald Trump wrongly says Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush had Florida's winner-take-all primary set. It wasn’t Bush or Rubio who set those rules for the March 15, 2016, primary. It was the Florida Legislature that passed a bill setting the date, allowing the state GOP to decide whether to make it winner-take-all. By that point, Trump was a potential candidate, but he wasn’t seen as a major threat to Rubio or Bush -- especially in Florida. We rated Trump’s statement False.
2. Alan Grayson says LeBron James "stops paying his Social Security taxes at the beginning of the second quarter of the first game of the season." Grayson, a Congressman running for U.S. Senate, made this statement during a debate. That’s a broad statement meant to draw attention to the fact that Social Security taxes are capped at $118,500 of a person’s income, no matter how much they make. There are a lot of factors that go into how much the basketball superstar is paid, and how much of that goes to various taxes. But the bottom line is that the athlete only faces Social Security taxes for a relative sliver of his income. We rated the statement Mostly True.
1. Fact-checking Gov. Rick Scott’s spat with the Starbucks heckler. We fact-checked three claims in the dispute between Scott and his heckler, former Lake Worth city commissioner Cara Jennings. She said Scott "cut Medicaid" so people can't "get Obamacare." Through Scott’s inaction and the Florida House's resistance to Medicaid expansion, many Floridians are not benefitting from either subsidies to buy private insurance or an expanded Medicaid. The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details. We rated it Half True.
Jennings also claimed Scott "stripped women of access to public health care." It’s possible to wrongly assume from Jennings’ statement that Scott slashed women’s health care services broadly, but he signed a law that cuts off state funding for clinics that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood. The exact amount that Planned Parenthood will lose -- and what that will mean for services -- wasn’t yet clear. We rated this statement Half True.
Scott countered, "We got a million jobs." On the numbers, Scott is on target -- the figure is actually a bit higher than 1 million net, new, nonfarm jobs. But Scott is not solely responsible for this improvement -- other factors played a role too. We rated his statement Mostly True.
Some of our older items were also popular in April including a claim by the Florida Democratic Party that Rick Scott "oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history" and our report examining whether Trump inherited $100 million.
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