Six Pants on Fire claims in 2017
As we get ready to clear the slate and welcome a new year, PolitiFact Wisconsin decided to take a look at statements that put politicians, state officials, bloggers and organizations on the hot seat in 2017.
That is, what claims were rated Pants on Fire?
Feb. 24: U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau): "Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood do little other than provide abortions."
Planned Parenthood performed nearly 324,000 abortions in the 12-month period between October 2013 and September 2014, according to the group’s annual report.
But that was out of a total of 9.4 million services provided to patients in the same time period, including: 4.2 million tests and treatment procedures for sexually transmitted infections; 2.9 million contraception services; 1.1 million pregnancy tests; and 682,000 cancer screening and prevention procedures.
March 2: Resistance Report, which describes itself as a "social justice-oriented media company": Says U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) "threatens citizens with arrest if they continue asking for a town hall."
The group’s article accused Johnson of dodging requests to hold town hall meetings and eventually responding to the requests with a "cease-and-desist" letter. The claim was stated broadly, but it turned out to relate to a letter Johnson sent to a Milwaukee man who acknowledged he had called Johnson’s office as many as 83 times in a day.
The cease-and-desist letter warned that if the man visited or called Johnson’s office (written communication was OK), staff would call U.S. Capitol Police.
April 2: Bloggers: "BREAKING: President Trump Just Told Paul Ryan ‘You’re Fired.’"
The bloggers invoked Trump’s catchphrase from his TV show "The Apprentice." The headline was on an article posted March 14 on TheLastLineOfDefense.org, 10 days before the Republican plan to replace Obamacare collapsed, with some conservatives blaming Ryan.
The site operators describe themselves as "a group of educated, God-fearing Christian conservative patriots." We could find no record of such a statement by Trump. Indeed, if such an encounter between Trump and Ryan had occurred, it would have been widely reported.
May 11: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville): "We got to a point that our Air Force pilots were going to museums to find spare parts over the last eight years" under Barack Obama.
Analysts and defense experts called the statement "a grotesque distortion" and "grossly misleading." More than a half dozen experts told PolitiFact Wisconsin that it has been common for decades to retrieve parts in military airplane "boneyards." Indeed, that is one of the main purposes for collecting and preserving older planes at such sites.
May 19: Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel: There is no "backlog" of untested rape kits in Wisconsin.
Schimel, a Republican, has repeatedly contested the idea -- when published in media reports -- that the untested kits comprise a "backlog." He argued the term unfairly casts his agency in a negative light.
But Schimel himself called it a backlog. A May 2015 letter accompanying a federal grant application referred to "the state’s backlog of unsubmitted sexual assault kits." An identically worded letter seeking a similar grant in April 2016 used the phrase again, though the letter was signed that time by Bonnie Cyganek, a department administrator.
Dec. 13: Former state lawmaker Kelda Helen Roys, a Democratic candidate in the 2018 race for governor: "Under Trump’s new tax plan … 99.8% of Americans" get "not one nickel" in tax cuts.
Roys said she was referring in her tweet to the Republican proposal to repeal the federal estate tax, which would only benefit the wealthiest and does not apply to 99.8 percent of Americans.
But her tweet made no reference to the estate tax. It gave the impression she was referring to Trump’s overall tax plan. And that plan includes a wide range of tax cuts.