Monday, November 8, 2010

Florida Amendment 5 and 6 Campaign Ad Fact Check

I was surfing Politifact this morning and noticed they did a fact check on a campaign advertisement attacking proposed Florida amendments 5 and 6, claiming out-of-state "liberal" groups funded the proposal with over $5 million in contributions.  Politifact deemed that statement to be "half true."
When it comes to the phrase "Liberal, out-of-state special interests are spending millions on 5 and 6," the Protect Your Vote group does reasonably well. PolitiFact Florida identifies $2.2 million in out-of-state money — though it’s not immediately possible to confirm all 230 contributions are from "liberal" donors or "special interests." Many donations come from individuals. But arguments from Duffy about the Florida Watch Ballot Committee and National Education Association hold some weight, providing an additional $1 million that fits the "out-of-state special interests" category and tipping the claim closer to true.

But this claim wasn’t made in isolation: The words appeared just as five logos and a number flashed on the screen for viewers. The AFL-CIO, SEIU, American Trial Lawyers Association, American Civil Liberties Union and ACORN logos appear above text that says: "Spending on 5 & 6 ... $5,786,364." We know two of those organizations didn’t contribute directly to Fair Districts Florida, and the rest contributed less than $669,000 combined. Also, the number on the screen represents "liberal" donations to Fair Districts Florida — not just those from out of state. Anyone watching without other background could fairly conclude that nearly $5.8 million had been contributed by "liberal, out-of-state special interests," with significant contributions from the organizations on the screen. That’s simply not the case.

Meanwhile, it’s not clear that the message itself came from a partisan group — the top six donations to Protect Your Vote come from the Republican Party of Florida: $750,000 as of Oct. 8, and $1.9 million since then.

"Liberal, out-of-state special interests" is the claim we’re checking, and there are clearly more than $1 million in donations that fit that category, and possibly more. But the mix of group logos and dollar figures is misleading. Not all those groups contributed money directly. Those who did contributed less than $1 million combined. And the number dramatically overstates "liberal, out-of-state special interests" since it represents all "liberal" donations from both inside and outside the state. We rate this claim Half True.
So why attack amendments 5 and 6?  Republicans will be drawing the district lines in 2012, just as they had done ten years ago after the 2000 census, and as Politifact points out, the resulting congressional delegation had more Republicans then Democrats despite the fact that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state.  I thought there was one interesting statement in the article that I wanted to look at more closely:
The group backing the changes, Fair Districts Florida, says the changes to the Constitution would prevent elected leaders from drawing legislative boundaries to benefit incumbents or one political party. But opponents, including the group Protect Your Vote, say the changes create standards that are impossible to meet and may actually make preserving minority representation more difficult. Instead, the opposition group — funded primarily by the Republican Party of Florida — characterizes the amendments as "designed to elect more Democrats."
I thought that statement was interesting because opponents claimed that the amendments would make it hard to preserve minority representation while electing more Democrats.  I suppose that by minority they mean Republicans because as mentioned above, Republicans are in a minority in Florida, and as exit polls have shown, minorities typically back the Democratic party.  Why would the NAACP back an amendment that according to the Republican Party will hurt the "advancement of colored people?"

While this article may be old news, I just wanted to mention it because of the gains Republicans had made in this last election.  There is still hope for the rest of us with these two amendments in place - hopefully the GOP doesn't find a way around them to go behind the will of the electorate...


  1. Sadly, that applies only in Florida. We need it everywhere.

    Off topic, I promised an online petition to replace Harry Reid. it's up.

  2. I will definitely sign that petition. I felt that Reid's strategies were very poor...

    To help you out I will make a posting about your petition!


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