Back-to-back Pants on Fire

Pants on Fire goes to claims rated false and ridiculous.
Pants on Fire goes to claims rated false and ridiculous.

Our two most recent fact checks -- on Democrat Tom Palzewicz and Republican Leah Vukmir -- both earned ratings of Pants on Fire.

Palzewicz claimed that in 40 years in Congress, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has "led" on only one bill (he has sponsored 500 measures); and Vukmir claimed, without evidence, that U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin was "more worried about the mastermind of 9/11" than supporting CIA director nominee Gina Haspel.

Claims we rate as not only false but ridiculous occur, on average, less than once a month.

So, we thought we’d review the other most recent Pants on Fire checks that led up to the two back to back.

These seven date back to the start of 2017.

Says Hillary Clinton once said "the average Democrat voter is just plain stupid, they’re easy to manipulate."

-- David Clarke, the former Milwaukee County sheriff and a conservative national pundit, in December 2017

Not only was there no evidence to confirm the alleged quote, which surfaced on a site dedicated to generating fake Clinton quotes, it had been debunked two years earlier.

"Under Trump’s new tax plan … 99.8% of Americans" get "not one nickel" in tax cuts.

-- Kelda Helen Roys, who’s running for the Democratic nomination for governor, in December 2017

Roys said she was referring 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, which became law in December 2017. That plan has its critics, including those who believe it gives too much to the rich. Nevertheless, as has been widely reported, the plan offers widespread tax cuts.

There is no ‘backlog’ of untested rape kits in Wisconsin.

-- Brad Schimel, Republican Wisconsin attorney general, in April 2017

Schimel argued it was wrong to describe the untested rape kits as a "backlog," arguing it implied blame on the department under his watch.

But the definition of the term does not involve how or when a backlog began. The Department of Justice had decided that the work should be done — a process that began slowly and was on pace to stretch out for up to two years. That’s a large accumulation of uncompleted work -- and that’s the definition of a backlog. Moreover, Schimel himself previously used the term

"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.

-- Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and U.S. House speaker, in May 2017

It was a broad claim, but Ryan’s office cited only one news article that quoted an Air Force captain as saying parts for seven planes were obtained from "museum aircraft."

Meanwhile, defense experts told us that Ryan’s claim was highly misleading, in that any such museum scrounging, if it has ever occurred, is isolated. Indeed, the Air Force operates a base whose main functions include storing thousands of planes to be available for spare parts.

The experts also agreed that even as defense spending dropped under former President Barack Obama, the Air Force had sufficient funding to prevent the need for pilots to hunt for airplane parts in museums.
 

"President Trump just told Paul Ryan, ‘You’re fired.’"
 

-- Bloggers, in March 2017

No such statement had ever surfaced in the mainstream news media, only on a website that warns that much of its material is satirical.

Says U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson "threatens citizens with arrest if they continue asking for a town hall."

-- Resistance Report, in March 2017

A letter by Johnson’s office cited by the group warned a man that if he did not stop calling and visiting the office of the Wisconsin Republican, the Capitol Police would be called. The letter had nothing to do with town hall meetings.

"Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood do little other than provide abortions."

-- Sean Duffy, Republican Wisconsin U.S. House member

Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report covering a 12-month span between October 2013 and September 2014 stated that abortions accounted for 3 percent of services the organization provided. About 13 percent of Planned Parenthood patients had abortions in the same period, a spokeswoman said.

What’s more, Duffy’s own measure to defund Planned Parenthood underlines how inaccurate this claim is. Federal money generally can’t be used for abortions, so the money he and others want to eliminate goes to pay for, well, things other than abortions.

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