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Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - Page updated at 12:16 a.m.

The Truth Needle

At the request of readers, we're continuing The Truth Needle, a fact-checking feature started before the 2010 election. Submit an idea for a future Truth Needle investigation. See previous Truth Needles here.

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UPDATE - 12:06 AM

Park-district opponents overstate tax claims

Opponents of a Metro Park Board for Seattle say the measure would increase property taxes 20 percent, but the math doesn’t add up.


$2.5M to enforce SeaTac 'living wage' law? Figures in ad 'way on high end'

Truth Needle: Opponents of SeaTac Proposition 1 claim that enforcing a $15 minimum wage would cost the city $2.5 million. Besides being vague — it refers to potential costs over five years — that figure appears based on exaggerated estimates.


GOP flier against Schlicher is faulty

Truth Needle examines a flier distributed by the state Republican Party making several accusations against state Sen. Nathan Schlicher of the 26th District and finds it includes incorrect statements and lack of context.


I-522: Ads stretch truth on what foods would be labeled, left out

TV ads opposing Initiative 522, the ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods, contend it’s riddled with unfair exemptions. Each ad contains some true, some misleading and some false elements.


UPDATE - 05:25 PM

TV ad about domestic violence mostly false

While critics can argue that Mayor Mike McGinn de-emphasized the city’s domestic-violence office, a recent ad by Ed Murray supporters omits relevant facts and goes too far by implying the move led to a spike in serious domestic violence.


In GMO ads, both sides make mostly false claims about I-522 costs

One side says GMO food labeling “won’t cost you a dime” and the other says it would cost families hundreds and taxpayers millions of dollars more. But both sides make questionable assumptions and ignore inconvenient data.


TV ad falsely ties McKenna to tea party

Truth Needle: A TV ad that links Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna to the tea party and the more conservative elements of the GOP misleads by using partial quotes and generalities.


Ad concerning schools teaching about gay marriage only half true

A new television ad by the campaign opposed to same-sex marriage warns Washington voters that if same-sex marriage is legalized in Washington state, schools could teach kids about such unions.


Gay-marriage 'harm' about bias, not law itself

Truth Needle: A new anti-referendum 74 television ad says experience shows how approving gay marriage "can harm" those opposed to the unions. We find the claim half true.


Gay-marriage mailer misleads on senior domestic partnerships

A mailer sent to senior citizens states that by voting for the state's same-sex marriage measure they also will be voting to preserve domestic partnerships for seniors. In reality, domestic partnerships for seniors will remain in place whether Referendum 74 passes or fails.


Details don't add up in Times Co.'s McKenna ads

Two ads in The Seattle Times supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna make several claims. Some are true, some are not.


Not much truth in nasty attorney general ads

Competing television ads in the attorney general's race are misleading and mostly false.


DelBene's attack on Koster overstates the case

Truth Needle: A Suzan DelBene ad attacking her Republican opponent, John Koster, overstates Koster's position on birth control.


McKenna ad wrong; he's voted for tax increases

Truth Needle: A TV ad by Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna claiming he "has always opposed property-tax increases" is mostly false.


Ferguson's claims about Dunn are mostly right

Bob Ferguson's ads question Reagan Dunn's spending on Australia trade trip, Persian rug for office.


Koster flier blurs facts about voting history

Truth Needle: A John Koster flier accuses opponent Suzan DelBene of failing to vote nine times in special and general elections from 2005-2010, adding, "John Koster takes his civic responsibility seriously and never missed a vote." Actually, he missed two votes in special elections while in the Legislature.


Ad unfairly ties McKenna to GOP far-right

The Truth Needle: A recent TV ad linking gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna to positions of the national Republican Party is mostly false.


GOP ad uses outdated Inslee proposal

Truth Needle: A television ad that accuses gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee of proposing to invest state pension money in startup companies has an element of truth to it, but it misleads viewers by not saying Inslee quickly dropped the idea.


Truth Needle: Inslee claim on tax swap half true

Truth Needle: Democrat Jay Inslee accuses Republican Rob McKenna of supporting a public-schools funding plan that would raise property taxes for thousands of people. But Inslee omits important context and offers no detailed alternative.


Gay-marriage ad fails to mention rights granted to domestic partners

A new television ad by same-sex-marriage supporters leaves viewers with the impression that a lesbian couple featured in the ad did not benefit from a certain kind of treatment from a Seattle-area hospital because they cannot legally marry.


Ad misleads in slamming Inslee for big tax hike on small business

A television ad accusing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee of voting for a massive tax increase on small businesses and claiming the stimulus program he supported "didn't deliver the promised jobs" is misleading.


Two truths add up to false ad claim

Truth Needle: A new ad accusing Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna of lobbying to raise his pay while also trying to block an increase in the minimum wage misses the mark.


McKenna's Medicaid claim mostly true

Truth Needle: Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says one in three Washington residents would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion allowed by the federal health-care law. That's true, but there is more to the story.


Half true: A look at Inslee's 'lean management' claim

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee says no governor, Republican or Democrat, has embraced the use of lean management techniques to make state government more efficient. That's half true.


Dems miss mark claiming McKenna supported education cuts

Truth Needle: Democrats miss the mark when they contend Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna supported $74 million in proposed K-12 and higher-education cuts contained in a budget passed by state Senate Republicans earlier this year.


McKenna's claim about state's jobless rate is true

Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says Washington has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. That's true.


It's true: Recycling workers face higher fatality rate

Teamsters Local 117 says in a newspaper advertisement that four Puget Sound recycling workers have been killed on the job since 2005.


Mostly false: Inslee's claim about middle management distorts reality

Gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee claims that middle-management positions in state government have increased 1,000 percent since 1993. But that assertion is based on misleading figures.


Inslee's claims about renewable energy half true

It's impossible to quantify how much the state's Initiative 937 -- which set the renewable-energy quota for large utilities -- was responsible for attracting new investments in wind, solar and biomass technologies.


McKenna's claims of staff cuts don't add up

Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says he has made larger cuts to his staff at the state Attorney General's office than have most other agencies. But he's comparing apples and oranges when making that assertion.


Mayor's claim about cars found to be half true

Mayor Mike McGinn said 19 percent of Seattle households don't have cars, and more and more younger people are choosing not to drive. But is he right?


Mostly false: Cantwell opponent repeats myths, overstates case on health law

GOP Senate candidate Michael Baumgartner says U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell voted to take away our choice of doctors, to force us to buy the insurance she mandates, and to give our choice of treatments to an unelected board of bureaucrats.


False: McKenna plan misstates rise in health-care costs

Truth needle: Gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna said state spending on health care for employees rose 10.5 percent in the most recent year. That's not true.


Mostly true: Drunken drivers' death toll is high

State Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, says more people are killed by drunken drivers in Washington state than by all other criminals combined. That's mostly true.


Mostly false: Gay-marriage wave of lawsuits claim mostly false

Gay-marriage opponents have said there will be a rash of civil suits against individuals and businesses that don't want to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples because of their religious beliefs. Our Truth Needle concludes that claim is mostly false.


Mostly false: I-1183 ad exaggerates

The campaign against Initiative 1183, which would privatize the state's liquor business, is running a television spot that says the initiative has "giant loopholes deregulating our liquor laws, allowing almost 1,000 gas stations and minimarts to sell hard liquor in every community across Washington, where police stings prove they sell to one out of four minors." A Seattle Times analysis judges the ad to be mostly false.


Mostly true: I-1183 TV ad on lower liquor costs mostly true

A television spot for Initiative 1183, a measure backed by Costco Wholesale that would privatize the state liquor system, says it would "bring more competitive prices to consumers." To borrow an idea from Bill Clinton, that depends on what you mean by "competitive."


Mostly false: Creighton ad mostly wrong on Hague's position on transit

Metropolitan King County Council candidate John Creighton's claim in a campaign ad is mostly false in saying incumbent Jane Hague "supports drastically cutting transit service."


Mostly false: Ad on '$200-a-day hospital tax'

Truth Needle: The Washington State Hospital Association is running a radio ad that claims the state Legislature is plotting a $200-a-day tax on hospital patients. The ad's claims are misleading at best.


Half true: Mayor's tunnel congestion claim

The claim: Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said last week on a radio appearance that the state's own data show the planned Highway 99 tolled tunnel would cause the worst downtown congestion of all options to replace the 58-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct. What we found: half true.


Mostly false: Union ad on Western State Hospital

In a new TV ad, the Washington Federation of State Employees claims that "because of state cuts violence has increased" at Western State Hospital. We found that claim to be mostly false.


Half true: Governor Gregoire's job-loss projections

The claim: Gov. Chris Gregoire recently told reporters that between 2009 and the end of the next budget in 2013 "we will lay off about 10,000 people overall in state employment and teachers."


Mostly false: China's 'new' jet orders anything but

The big Boeing order from China trumpeted during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the White House is actually a re-announcement of previous orders.


False: Seattle Public Schools underestimated students' college-readiness

The claim that only 17 percent of Seattle Public Schools graduates meet the entrance requirements for four-year colleges is not correct.


Half true: Woodward's remarks on Oregon off mark

The claim: University of Washington Athletic Director Scott Woodward told a radio reporter last weekend that the University of Oregon's academics have become "an embarrassment."


Mostly false: Reichert tax vote portrayed unfairly

A television ad from Democrat Suzan DelBene's congressional campaign claims that Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert voted to raise taxes after promising never to do so.


Mostly false: claim that extending tax requires public vote

The statement in a commercial for a yes vote on Initiative 1098 that the measure "cannot be changed without a vote of the people" is mostly false because state law allows the Legislature to make changes to initiatives, with certain restrictions. The commercial fails to acknowledge the Legislature's authority.


Half true: Ad implying 'Olympia' keeps raising sales tax

Half true: A recent TV ad from the Defeat 1098 campaign says that after two years "Olympia" can extend the income tax created by Initiative 1098 to everyone and then notes, "look what's happened with the sales tax, it keeps going up and up."


Mostly false: Reichert tax vote portrayed unfairly

Mostly false: A television ad from Democrat Suzan DelBene's congressional campaign claims that Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert voted to raise taxes after promising never to do so.


False: Ad incorrect, stimulus bills created jobs

False: A television ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee accuses U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of voting for "a failed stimulus that didn't create jobs." At the same time, an ad by Republican challenger Dino Rossi's campaign attacks Murray for supporting "several stimulus bills which have done nothing other than run up the national debt."


Half-true: Larsen's ad interpretation of 'Koster Plan' on Social Security

Half true: U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen's radio and TV ads say his Republican opponent, Snohomish County Councilman John Koster, wants to privatize Social Security.


True: Claim by campaign against liquor initiatives

It's impossible to know how many more stores in Washington would sell liquor if they could under proposed Initiatives 1100 and 1105.


Half true: I-1098 ad doesn't tell whole story

Half true: A TV ad from the Defeat 1098 campaign says the income-tax initiative would create the "4th highest state income tax," the tax "can be extended to you in 2 years" and would be the "largest tax increase in history."


Mostly false: 'Grocery items' ad misleading

Mostly false: A TV ad supporting Initiative 1107 says new taxes are being levied on "grocery items," including foods made of meat, fruits and vegetables. It also says the taxes target products made by Washington companies, but not out-of-state competitors.


False: Murray ad wrongly depicts Rossi's answer on Boeing, Airbus

An ad for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray accuses Republican challenger Dino Rossi of saying Boeing workers should not have a level playing field to compete for an Air Force tanker contract.


Half true: Claim for I-1098 off on number of firms to gain B&O tax exemption

Campaign materials for the income-tax initiative targeting high-wage earners said that "under I-1098, more than 80 percent of businesses, over 375,000, will not pay any B&O tax." That statement is half true.


Mostly true: Murray takes credit for stopping overseas tanker contract

In a television ad, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray takes credit for stopping the federal government from awarding a $35 billion aircraft contract to a foreign company. Her assertion is mostly true.


False: Murray's statement about teachers' jobs

Sen. Patty Murray said earlier this month that 3,000 teaching jobs in Washington state were at risk in the fall without new federal aid that she helped pushed through Congress.


False: Dino Rossi's claim on Patty Murray's spending

U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi has claimed that Sen. Patty Murray has voted for every spending bill in Congress since 2004. But based on his campaign's own definition of a spending bill, that charge is false.



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