TRUTH TEST HEADQUARTERS, Florida - After a campaign season full of fact-checking, one constant holds true: candidates will stretch - or blatantly ignore - the facts when convenient.
Every campaign ad we reviewed told some truth, but few told the whole truth (and nothing but the truth).
Grade C: Rick Scott/RPOF - "Whatever it Takes"
Grade C: Kendrick Meek - "Only One"
Grade C: Charlie Crist - "What Do We Really Know?"
Grade B: Alex Sink/FDP - "Jobs"
Grade A: Moving Hillsborough Forward - "Together"
Grade C: Marco Rubio - "Backwards"
FACEBOOK: Follow The Truth Test!
Below are the top five claims we reviewed that flunked the Truth Test.
No. 5: Marco Rubio ad says, "politicians don't create jobs."
We found politicians can, in fact, create jobs. While numerous examples could be cited, one needs to look no further than national job numbers that indicate government is the single-largest employer in the nation. It's also the top employer in Florida.
Additionally, Rubio's attempt to cast himself as an "outsider" is misleading. Merriam-Webster defines "politician" as "a person experienced in the art or science of government." With eight years experience in the Florida House, Rubio can try to capitalize on the anti-Washington sentiment, but can't deny the fact that he's a politician too.
No. 4: Kendrick Meek ad says, "I'm the only one who's fought against developers draining the Everglades."
Meek, a supporter of Everglades restoration, was taking a jab at Charlie Crist's signing of SB 2080 in 2009. The St. Petersburg Times' Editorial Board was one of several across the state to rip the governor for signing the bill, saying, "Gov. Charlie Crist's sellout to developers is now complete...developers and big industry will be able to more easily drain Florida and pave over what's left."
However, Crist has also supported a number of measures aimed at restoring the Everglades, including the purchase of land to restore natural water flow in South Florida. And Rubio has also supported restoration efforts over the years, including Everglades Restoration Bonds in 2008.
No. 3: Charlie Crist ad says, "Kendrick Meek steered government contracts to an indicted developer, who then hired Meek's mother."
Not only did the ad get the citation for the claim wrong, but it also changed the chronology of events for effect. The Miami Herald reported that Meek did, in fact, help obtain a $72,750 federal earmark in 2004 for a project that was supposed to create jobs in Miami-Dade County. And "in June 2005, he also helped get a $1 million labor grant for Miami Dade College to train 800 technicians and related workers for the biopharmaceutical park." (Crist himself questioned funding the project in 2007).
But the developer was only accused, investigated, and indicted after the recession crippled the project's plans. Furthermore, while the developer had paid Meek's mother, longtime Congresswoman Carrie Meek, $90,000 in consulting fees, it was before the federal funds were secured - not after, as the ad indicates.
No. 2: Kendrick Meek ad says, "(I'm) the only one against privatizing Social Security."
Meek is on the record opposing privatization, as is his Republican opponent, Rubio. However, Rubio also said earlier this year that "Social Security should include private accounts."
Unfortunately for Meek, he has two major opponents in this race and when it came to his Independent challenger, his campaign could only point to a 1998 candidate survey where Crist said of Social Security "maybe a very small percentage (1 or 2) percent could be privatized only if current recipients will continue to receive 100 percent of what they have been promised." Hardly a ringing endorsement of privatization. In fact, Crist's campaign said the governor is now against privatization altogether, enough to reject this claim.
No. 1: Rick Scott ad and Marco Rubio ad say the stimulus didn't create jobs.
Both campaigns and the GOP cite "job losses." But while the national unemployment rate has climbed from 7.7 percent to 9.6 percent since the stimulus bill was passed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) indicated in Feb. 2010 that the stimulus was responsible for halting the free-falling job-loss numbers. And in August, the CBO estimated it raised employment by between 1.4 and 3.3 million during the second quarter of 2010.
In Florida, a report on the state's recovery website indicates "167,000 jobs were created or saved by the Recovery Act", including tens of thousands of teachers. Some local municipalities, such as the City of St. Pete, have also created websites so you can track where stimulus dollars are being spent.
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Connect with 10 News reporter Noah Pransky on Twitter at www.twitter.com/noahpransky or Facebook at www.facebook.com/noahpransky. You can also get more by following The Truth Test on Facebook.
Noah Pransky, 10 News