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Countless debates gave mayoral candidates Carl DeMaio and Bob Filner plenty of chances to make bold claims this election season.
We dug into 35 of them as the two battled through the primary and general election and found more than half of those statements to be misleading, false or worse.
The inaccuracies ran the gamut — from DeMaio’s statement about costs associated with a city retirement plan to Filner’s comment that he’s never been backed by special interests — and we also noted a few areas where both candidates have been consistently correct.
Here, we touch on the claims the candidates have gotten right as well as their biggest whoppers and worst campaign attacks.
We’ve also posted a complete listing of our mayor’s race fact checks here. The spreadsheet includes links to each Fact Check, and is searchable list by topic, rating and more.
The biggest whoppers
• DeMaio, a one-term councilman, repeatedly made false claims about the city’s proposed Convention Center expansion.
He received two Huckster Propaganda ratings — our most severe ruling — after at least twice saying the public wouldn’t get the bill for the expansion.
• Filner, a 10-term congressman, has gotten caught being less than honest when discussing his infamous 2007 run-in with an airport baggage clerk.
In August, Filner said the court threw out the misdemeanor assault and battery charge against him when he agreed to plead guilty to trespassing, a lesser criminal charge.
Here’s our related fact check.
What they’ve gotten right
• For the most part, DeMaio has correctly described the state of the city and its services.
A claim about perks for parking enforcement officers, which DeMaio called “scooter pay,” resulted in a more nuanced rating. DeMaio correctly highlighted the increase in staffers’ pay and the benefits that result in their pensions but overstated how much additional pay an officer receives for driving a scooter.
• Filner has been mostly factual when it comes to his congressional record.
He earned “mostly true” ratings for a comment about bills he supported that helped hundreds of thousands of veterans enroll in college and he saved taxpayers $ 3 billion on upgrades to the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Our ratings on claims related to Filner’s success in reaching across the aisle to expand veterans’ benefits were more complicated. We found it was true that the health care budget for the Veterans Administration spiked when Filner chaired the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs but that the budget increases didn’t have the unanimous support Filner touted.
The worst campaign hits
• In August, DeMaio claimed he attended a court hearing to show his support for a pension initiative overwhelmingly approved by San Diegans while Filner skipped it. Filner fired back, saying DeMaio attended because he was subpoenaed. We found that claim to be false. This is the best example of a pattern Filner has displayed throughout the election. While the broad thrust of his argument might be correct — DeMaio’s involvement in a pension legal case was different from Filner’s — the actual facts and details of his statements are wrong. He also botched basic facts about business at the Unified Port of San Diego, which is the centerpiece of his economic development plan.
• Later that month, DeMaio said he was the first mayoral candidate to visit Baja California. The problem was that Filner, who represents most of California’s border with Mexico, had just visited. We gave DeMaio’s comment our worst rating — Huckster Propaganda — because Filner had informed him of a Tijuana visit during an earlier mayoral debate.
Have a question about our ratings or how we conduct our Fact Checks? Have any ideas for future subjects? Please get in touch.
Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0528.
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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.