U.S. Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan’s assertion that 90 percent of felonies are committed by people who grew up in fatherless homes has been given a “mostly false” rating by Politifact.
The national fact-checking group looked at a comment the Knoxville Republican congressman made in a letter to a constituent: “Well over 90 percent of felony cases, all over the nation, are committed by defendants who grew up in father-absent households.”
A Duncan spokesman told Politifact that the assertion was based on “knowledge obtained from nearly eight years as a criminal court judge dealing with mostly felony cases.” And Gary Tullock, chief probation counselor, told him the figure was actually 98 percent.
Politifact looked at three studies on the issue, which pegged the number at around 60 percent.
Dewey Cornell, a clinical psychologist and professor of education at the University of Virginia, said that even if Duncan’s statistic were true, “it would be misleading and incomplete,” because it does not address how many people grew up in father-absent households and did not commit felonies.
“We could point out that 99 percent of felony offenders drank milk as a child, too, but it is easy to see the fallacy here because we have no preconceptions about milk the way we do about father absence,” he said. “Father absence is surely an important concern, but it is only one of a number of risk factors for felony criminal behavior.”
…The data we found supports Duncan’s impression that growing up in a fatherless home is one of the factors that contributes to eventual incarceration. But the quantitative research does not show the near-certain link between felonies and fatherlessness that Duncan portrays. We rate the claim Mostly False.
The full Politifact article is HERE.
Zelenik Ad Gets a Politifact ‘False‘
“Diane Black voted to fund Obamacare, then she voted to repeal it. I guess she was for it before she was against it,” says Lou Ann Zelenik in a radio ad for her 6th Congressional District campaign.
Politifact Tennessee has rated the claim on Black’s vote to fund Obamacare as false. HERE.
Third District Review
Chris Carroll, who has followed the 3rd Congressional District campaign more closely than any reporter in the state, sizes up the campaign situation in the final days, HERE.
A sample: But the tone changed when the foursome realized they differed little on issues — they’re all interested in cutting spending, aiding industry and promoting social conservatism. As they sought to differentiate themselves, negative attacks began hitting 3rd District mailboxes, televisions and computer screens.
Gardenhire Equals Vital in Spending
Fueled by $57,000 in personal loans to his campaign, Todd Gardenhire matched rival Greg Vital dollar for dollar in spending on the Republican Senate District 10 primary from July 1-26, state records show. HERE
Black Remembers TennCare
U.S. Rep. Diane Black recalls her days in the Tennessee state legislature and the woes of TennCare in an interview with The Hill. HERE.
Hill ‘100 Percent’ Claim Questioned
The Tomahawk of Mountain City says there’s been confusion over Timothy Hill claiming a “100 percent rating” from Tennessee Right to Life in his House District 3 campaign. Right to Life has actually endorsed one of his opponents, Kevin Parsons. HERE.
Rogers, Maggart & the Phone Factor
Post Politics has a news release from Courtney Rogers in House District 45, wherein she says Debra Maggart has emailed supporters Rogers’ unlisted home phone number in an unwarranted harassment effort. HERE.
Elam Chiles Lynn on Residence
Rep. Linda Elam issues a “blue card” challenge to her Republican primary opponent, former state Rep. Susan Lynn, in House District 57. HERE.
A comment by House Speaker Beth Harwell on “ghost voting” has been rated “half true” by Politifact Tennessee. The item starts like this:
Since the Tennessee General Assembly installed electronic voting systems in the House and Senate chambers more than 20 years ago, lawmakers have often cast votes for an absent colleague – a practice that has been nicknamed “ghost voting.” The old custom got some fresh attention in the last days of the 2012 session when a Nashville television station, WTVF, filmed state representatives using long sticks to sit at their desks and punch voting buttons on the desks of other members who were missing.
Subsequently, House Speaker Beth Harwell offered commentary on the matter in an interview with the station, saying she doesn’t really condone the practice but it is permitted under legislative rules. That’s true. But then the speaker went on to say:
“We’re not like Congress. In Congress, they don’t even have to be on the floor for debates or votes. I require my members to be on the floor.”
Was the speaker speaking the truth in contrasting Congress with the General Assembly in ghost voting?
The full story is HERE.
The gubernatorial claim, made in a speech last week to the Carter County Republican Party:
“In Tennessee – personal income is growing faster in Tennessee on average than any other state in the country.”
Which just isn’t so, reports Politifact Tennessee. Read the report HERE.
Two fairly recent comments by legislative leaders are deemed false in recently-posted items on Politifact Tennessee.
From Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey: “This year’s redistricting has been the most open, interactive and transparent redistricting process in Tennessee history.” (Direct link: HERE)
From House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick: The state constitution “clearly says there’s not to be a state income tax in Tennessee.” (Direct link HERE)
Gov. Bill Haslam’s campaign promises are now being monitored by Tennessee Politifact with a Haslam-O-Meter launched Sunday.
Steve Ahillen, who did most of the heavy lifting in creating the the online project, also wrote a story about it. It starts like this:
With the economy tanking and unemployment in double digits, Bill Haslam built his 2010 gubernatorial campaign around jobs.
He called it “Jobs4TN” and repeated his promise to “make Tennessee the No. 1 state in the Southeast for high-quality jobs” more times than the Pride of the Southland Band plays “Rocky Top” at a Tennessee football game. He got elected in a landslide.
And while the promise was certainly the governor’s biggest, it was far from the only one he made to Tennesseans. By our count, he made 23 on everything from raising taxes (he won’t) to state funding for Planned Parenthood (he promised to end it).
With a year since his inauguration, it’s time to check how far he has gotten toward achieving those goals.
PolitiFact Tennessee today unveils the Haslam-O-Meter, a new feature to help you track how the governor is doing.
It is modeled after the Obameter on the national PolitiFact site, which follows pledges that President Barack Obama made in the 2008 campaign.
Other state sites in the PolitiFact network are doing their own promise-meter features for their governors and mayors; and PolitiFact National has the GOP Pledge-O-Meter, which tracks the promises made by Republican leaders in Congress.
What makes a promise?
It had to be made before Election Day and it had to be a pledge of future action that is measurable. So, things like changing the tone in Nashville or making the state a better place to live don’t qualify.
But specific pledges like his promise to pass “meaningful tort reform” to help doctors made the list. (We’ve even rated that one Promise Kept.)
In Sunday editions, the Knoxville News Sentinel and the Memphis Commercial Appeal jointly reported the launch of Politifact Tennessee, which is designed to check the veracity of statements made in the course of state political and governmental doings.
Excerpt from News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy:
Today, Tennessee joins the PolitiFact network. The News Sentinel and its sister paper, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, have launched PolitiFact Tennessee.
The project has both print and online components. Each Sunday and Monday, the News Sentinel will publish new Truth-O-Meter rulings, complete with details of the evaluations.
Then, during the week, other rulings will appear on the Tennessee portion of PolitiFact.com.
Among the first batch of comments to scrutinized by the Tennessee Truth-O-Meter are U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen’s claim that the Republicans have “never done anything” to lower the budget deficit, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s remarks about the 100-watt incandescent light bulb and state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s assertions about the cost of drug tests.
Researching the Truth-O-Meter rulings is a team of veteran Scripps journalists: Zach McMillin in Memphis; Steve Ahillen in Knoxville; Richard Locker and Tom Humphrey in Nashville; and Bart Sullivan and Michael Collins in Washington, D.C.
Bill Adair, the creator of PolitiFact, is personally overseeing the Tennessee launch, as he has the launches of all PolitiFact sites.
Note: Commercial Appeal Editor Chris Peck on Politifact, HERE.