November 20, 2014

Fact-checking immigration, including claims by Marco Rubio and Debbie Wasserman Schultz

President Barack Obama will speak to the nation about immigration on Thursday night, unveiling a plan to prevent deportations for broad swathes of people living in the United States illegally.

We don’t yet know the exact details of Obama’s plan, but preliminary news reports indicated the White House could shield roughly 4 million to 5 million people from the threat of deportation. If 11 million illegal immigrants are in the United States, as several estimates suggest, that would mean temporary legal status for roughly 35 to 45 percent.

While we’re waiting to hear concrete details of the actual plan, we thought it would be a good time to review some key fact-checks on immigration. We’ve selected 12 reports that shed light on Obama’s speech and the topic of immigration. (Browse all of our fact-checks on immigration including claims by Jeb Bush.)

Turn to Angie Drobnic Holan's report from PolitiFact.

November 19, 2014

South Florida Dems to Obama: Venezuelans should be part of executive action on immigration

@PatriciaMazzei

Two South Florida Democratic members of Congress have penned a letter to President Obama asking him to specifically include Venezuelans in his planned executive action on immigration.

U.S. Reps. Joe Garcia of Miami and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, wrote in the letter Tuesday that Obama should provide "administrative relief protections for thousands of Venezuelans who have fled Venezuela and are fearful of returning."

"Political and economic conditions in Venezuela have been declining for years, but now the Venezuelan people are facing a government that would rather repress and demonize its own citizens than engage in dialogue to address the serious problems facing the country," they said.

Any action could apply to Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. before December 2011, the cutoff date for the Senate immigration-reform bill yet to be taken up by the House of Representatives, the letter says. Or Obama could authorize "delayed enforced departure," a protection similar to the one granted to people with Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.

"Their inclusion in administrative relief falls in line with the purpose of such action which should be to provide relief from deportation to those who have established lives and families in the U.S. and whose deportations would rip apart communities."

South Florida is home to the largest number of Venezuelans outside of the South American country -- including a large contingent in Wasserman Schultz's hometown, which is known as Westonzuela. Garcia, who lost reelection earlier this month to Republican Carlos Curbelo, has filed legislation to give Venezuelans special immigration status, but it has gone nowhere.

November 04, 2014

Ken Detzner: So far, no hitches at the polls on Election Day

Detzner

Voting is going "very smoothly" this morning, with all polls opening on time in the state's 6,222 precincts, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said at an elections briefing in Tallahassee.

While millions are expected to vote today, the number of early votes cast could be a record, he said. As of last night, 1.7 million Floridians voted by absentee ballot and 1.3 million voted in-person at the polls. By party, 655,020 Democrats and 791,324 Republicans voted by absentee ballot and 555,473 Democrats and 518,476 Republicans voted early in-person at the polls.

"Voters are very pleased to get out early and vote absentee," he said. "I think we might actually see some records in regards to the number of absentee ballots that were mailed and that we're seeing returned.

"By the time the polls close this evening, we should have a sizeable number of votes already counted because of legislative changes made in 2013," Detzner said, referring to fixes restoring more early voting after Florida's flawed 2012 election process.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division is monitoring polling locations in four Florida counties -- Duval, Hillsborough, Lee and Orange -- to ensure federal voting laws are followed. Detzner said these "observers" are present in 17 states, but stressed his confidence that the voting process has improved.

Given a governor's race too tight to predict, the state is ready for a recount, Detzner said. But the contest between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Cristisn't the only challenge supervisors face this evening.

Several other tight races could require a recount, including the 2nd Congressional District race between Republican Steve Southerland and Democrat Gwen Grahamand the District 26 race where Miami Democrat Joe Garcia is battling Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo.

Continue reading "Ken Detzner: So far, no hitches at the polls on Election Day" »

October 14, 2014

Wasserman Schultz's False claim about Wisconsin voter ID law

From our friends @PolitiFactWisc:

Separate judicial rulings in Wisconsin and Texas on Oct. 9, 2014 gave cheer to opponents of state laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls.

Here’s part of what the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, had to say in a statement:

"With less than ten days before early voting starts in Texas and Wisconsin, I am pleased with the judicial decisions yesterday striking down burdensome photo ID laws in those states."

Did the brief Supreme Court order "strike down" the Wisconsin statute?

The DNC leader was in a minority in using that terminology, we found in reviewing media reports and reactions from legal and political observers.

But the New York Times’ headline on its story may have influenced some -- and in fact a DNC spokesman pointed it out to us in providing backup for Wasserman Schultz’s  claim.

"Courts Strike Down Voter ID laws in  Wisconsin and Texas,"  the  paper’s online headline declared Oct. 9, 2014.

The story beneath that headline, though, used "struck down" only when referring to the Texas ruling. Here’s what it said about Wisconsin: "TheSupreme Court on Thursday evening stopped officials in Wisconsin from requiring voters there to provide photo identification before casting their ballots in the coming election."

There’s a significant difference between the rulings in the two states. Turn to PolitiFact Wisconsin's full report

September 17, 2014

For third year in a row, DC Democrats' wage war on one woman: DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

@MarcACaputo

If three is a trend, then DC has a rite of late summer: Anonymous Democrats attacking DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Democratic insiders, Politico reports today, have "lost confidence in her as both a unifying leader and reliable party spokesperson at a time when they need her most." 

But let's face it. Some of these folks never had much faith in the Broward congresswoman.

Politico's e-book, released in August 2012, recounted how people in Obama World couldn't stand her. One year later, Politico and BuzzFeed followed up with more hate from her party. This year, August came and went with Wasserman Schultz putting some daylight between her and the White House over immigration.

It's clear Wasserman Schultz has made enemies. She certainly did when she undercut Democratic donor and Florida trial lawyer John Morgan over his medical marijuana ballot initiative. Morgan cut her to bits. And he was happy to reprise his role today in Politico (which for some reason didn't mention the prescription cannabis blow-up).

But it's the anonymous Democrats who really throw the incendiaries. They're trying to make her like Sara Palin over a clothing controversy. Note: There is a big difference between Palin's sartorial struggles and Wasserman Schultz's: There was documentation to prove that Palin had donors pick up her clothing tab; no such evidence exists (yet?) over the allegations concerning Wasserman Schultz, who says it's not true. 

Anyway, here's Politico:

In 2012, Wasserman Schultz attempted to get the DNC to pay for her clothing at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, multiple sources say, but was blocked by staff in the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters and at President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign headquarters in Chicago.

(Also on POLITICO: DNC chief walks back Walker 'words')
She asked again around Obama’s inauguration in 2013, pushing so hard that Obama senior adviser — and one-time Wasserman Schultz booster — Valerie Jarrett had to call her directly to get her to stop. (Jarrett said she does not recall that conversation.) One more time, according to independent sources with direct knowledge of the conversations, she tried again, asking for the DNC to buy clothing for the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.?

Wasserman Schultz denies that she ever tried to getthe DNC to pick up her clothing tab. “I think that would be a totally inappropriate use of DNC funds,” she said in a statement. “I never asked someone to do that for me, I would hope that no one would seek that on my behalf, and I’m not aware that anyone did.”

Putting aside the veracity of the allegations, the fact that they're coming up year after year, the fact that Democrats are on defense and the fact that Obama is a lame duck means it's probably time for Wasserman Schultz to save face and leave her party post.

More here

September 05, 2014

Wasserman Schultz: 'I shouldn't have used the words' about Scott Walker

@MarcACaputo

Add one more person to the list of people who think DNC Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz went too far in bashing Scott Walker: Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Her statement:

 "I shouldn’t have used the words I used.  But that shouldn't detract from the broader point that I was making that Scott Walker’s policies have been bad for Wisconsin women, whether it's mandating ultrasounds, repealing an equal pay law, or rejecting federal funding for preventative health care, Walker's record speaks for itself.  As for the issue of domestic violence, it's unacceptable that a majority of Congressional Republicans opposed this critical legislation, of which I was a proud cosponsor, after blocking its reauthorization for more than a year.”

Blog note: Normally, we'd add her statement to the prior-posted blog but, considering the interest and outrage (phony and otherwise), it merited its own space.

FL GOP tries linking Charlie Crist to Wasserman Schultz' hair-pulling controversy

@MarcACaputo

Sharp-tongued DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz got too trenchant in Wisconsin this week when she criticized that state's governor, saying he and other conservatives gave "women the back of his hand" and "are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back​."

Oops.

Democrats have distanced themselves from the Broward congresswoman's comments. Local papers condemned them. And Republicans are trying to make sure they're not forgotten.

Cue this Republican Party of Florida email that just dropped:

As President Obama’s top apologist, it’s no surprise that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is all in for Obama’s favorite liberal – Charlie Crist – as one of his top surrogates.

On Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz stepped over the line with comments about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker & fellow Republican governors saying he “…has given women the back of his hand…” & “…they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back.” The remarks have been roundly criticized by the media, Republicans and Democrats.

Ask Charlie Crist if he condemns these offensive remarks or if he agrees with using the plight of abuse victims to score cheap political points.

But as the candidate of TALK over ACTION, it’s likely that Charlie will fail to ACT on Debbie’s offensive TALK.

September 04, 2014

In Context: Wasserman Schultz's comments about Scott Walker giving 'women the back of his hand.'

Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz made national headlines and stirred controversy when she sharply criticized Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker during an appearance in Milwaukee on Sept. 3, 2014.

The South Florida congresswoman was the featured speaker in a round-table discussion on women's issues at the Milwaukee Athletic Club. She was joined by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, and Wisconsin Democratic Party chair Mike Tate, among others.

At one point, Wasserman Schultz said: "Scott Walker has given women the back of his hand."

She added: "What Republican tea party extremists like Scott Walker are doing is they are grabbing us by the hair and pulling us back."

Republican Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said the remarks were "absolutely hideous and the motive behind them was despicable."

And a spokeswoman for Mary Burke, the Democrat who is challenging Walker in the Nov. 4, 2014 election, said: "That's not the type of language that Mary Burke would use, or has used, to point out the clear differences in this contest."

The controversy makes the remarks a good candidate for In Context, a periodic feature that provides a fuller look at comments that gain widespread attention. Read the report from PolitiFact Florida and PolitiFact Wisconsin.

August 21, 2014

DNC chair Wasserman Schultz bucks lame-duck Obama on deporting unaccompanied minors

@MarcACaputo

It's August, and in Washington Democratic insider circles that usually means some anonymous person from Obama World would have something nasty to say about Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Weston's congresswoman.

But the third time wasn't the charm.

And last night it looked like Wasserman Schultz was ready to put some daylight between her and President Obama over a most-sensitive topic: the unaccompanied minors who flooded the border.

Here's Politico:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also thinks deporting children detained at the border is sending them back to “certain death.”

The White House went apoplectic last month when likely 2016 presidential candidate Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death.” Tuesday night, Wasserman Schultz said twice — strongly — that she thinks O’Malley was right.

“As you know, Gov. O’Malley said that to send them back would be to send them to certain death. Do you agree with him?” Fusion’s Jorge Ramos asked in an interview.

“Not only do I agree with him, but,” the Florida congresswoman said, launching into a long story about a boy she’d met during a visit to a facility in Miami who told her of being kidnapped and forced into the drug trade, and showed her a bullet wound through the back of his arm.....

“That was the first she was hearing about Martin O’Malley,” said Wasserman Schultz’s congressional office communications director Sean Bartlett. “She was reacting to Jorge’s question and thinking about the tour she had just come from.”

Putting aside the potential political calculus of courting Hispanics or firing up liberals or simply saying something heartfel, maybe it's just a coincidence that Wasserman Schultz happened to say this now.

But regardless, the lame-duckness of President Obama is looking lamer and lamer.

July 01, 2014

Fact-checking claims about Hobby Lobby

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain companies with religious objections can opt out of a mandate under the Affordable Care Act to provide free contraception to their employees.

The 5-4 ruling involved a case brought by two companies owned by Christian families: Hobby Lobby, a chain of hobby stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which makes wood cabinets. The companies opposed providing certain types of contraception that they believe is equivalent to inducing abortion, including morning-after pills and IUDs. (They didn’t oppose other methods of birth control.) They based their case on the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act signed by President Bill Clinton.

The issue arose because birth control is included among the free preventative services mandated by President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care law. Houses of worship and religious institutions were already exempt from this aspect of the law. The court’s ruling applies to "closed corporations" which are in control by a few people, rather than public companies with many shareholders.

Associate Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion, stating that women who work for these corporations can still access these types of birth control either by the federal government paying for it or through a third-party administrator.

Though the ruling was narrower in scope than it could have been, supporters of broad access to contraception expressed disappointment. One of these supporters was U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair from South Florida. In a statement attacking the decision, Wasserman Schultz said that contraception for women isn’t just about avoiding pregnancy.

"Nearly 60 percent of women who use birth control do so for more than just family planning," she said.

We fact-checked Wasserman's claim and rated it Mostly True.

We're fact-checking a few other claims from the case and will update this story as we complete them.