Saturday, September 22, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact: Rick Scott's super PAC attack overshoots Clintons' wealth

Gov. Rick Scott pulled political double duty on national television Sunday, assuring viewers that the north Miami neighborhood with confirmed Zika cases is "absolutely" safe before launching into his super PAC's new attack ad against Hillary Clinton.

"We're making sure everybody pregnant has their opportunity to get an assessment and a test if they want it," Scott said on NBC's Meet the Press. "And we're keeping everybody informed."

Scott defended state spending on mosquito control efforts and renewed his calls for the federal government to "show up."

Then he unveiled the newest ad from the super PAC he chairs, Rebuilding America Now. The ad hits Hillary and Bill Clinton on their personal finances and is set to run in battleground states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

It opens with a clip of Hillary Clinton saying that when she and Bill left the White House, they were "dead broke," a claim we previously rated Mostly False. Although the public record shows more liabilities than assets when Clinton left office, the couple was able to offer a cash down payment of $855,000 and secure a $1.995 million mortgage a few weeks later.

But the super PAC also exaggerates. As the logo of the Clinton Foundation appears on the screen, the narrator says, "A foundation was created, and money started to roll. Speeches, connections and donations. Misogynistic regimes, Wall Street insiders, corrupt dictators. They all had one thing in common: Their check cleared. The Clintons are now worth in excess of $100 million."

That net worth estimate is almost twice as high as the most credible estimates we could find. So the claim rates Mostly False.

A spokesperson for the PAC did not respond to our inquiry.

The most current estimate comes from Hillary Clinton's federal financial disclosure filing, something she had to provide as a presidential candidate. That form states explicitly that the assets of the candidate and his or her spouse must be included, and they are reported in ranges.

The Clintons reported assets between $11.3 million and $52.7 million. The couple listed no liabilities. Add in $9 million for the value of two homes in New York and Washington, and the estimate reaches $62 million.

The Clintons have done very well. Between multimillion-dollar book contracts and speaking fees of $225,000 or more, they have earned an estimated $230 million in the 15 years since they left the White House.

But income is not wealth. As high as those earnings are, that still doesn't bring them close to the $100 million mark, much less take them beyond it.

The ad's claim about the role of the Clinton Foundation is suggestive, but unclear. The foundation has grown rapidly, raising over $2 billion to fight AIDS, reduce hunger and poverty, and rein in climate change. It has received millions from several Middle Eastern kingdoms, mega-wealthy businessmen and major corporations. But according to the foundation's tax filings and its website, none of the Clintons is paid by the foundation.

Trade turn

Clinton's vice presidential pick Tim Kaine appeared on the show to defend the Democratic nominee and his own record on trade.

Clinton touted the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal as secretary of state, promoting it with rosy language during negotiations among a dozen Pacific Rim countries, but she is now against it.

Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked Kaine, a Virginia senator, if he will fight the trade deal in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress "now that you've essentially switched your position" to match Clinton.

Kaine said he will fight the deal, but he's no flip-flopper.

"I haven't switched my position," Kaine said, adding he always said he was going to look at the deal very carefully.

His statement rates Half True.

Kaine is against the deal now, but he had kinder things to say about it before — without taking a firm position.

Kaine was just one of 13 Senate Democrats who voted in June 2015 to give President Barack Obama fast-track authority (the bill was later defeated in the House). Kaine said then that he had received "assurances" of changes to the deal in the pipeline, but was not going to vote for the deal if there was no program to retrain workers affected by trade.

That's roughly what he has been saying for the past year and a half: He supports giving Obama negotiating authority but would wait for TPP to be finalized before taking a stance on it.

In recent weeks, he has also praised the deal without saying he would support it.

"I am having discussions with a lot of groups around Virginia about the treaty itself. I see much to like. I think it's an upgrade of labor standards, I think it's an upgrade of environmental standards. I think it's an upgrade of intellectual property protections," he told the Intercept on July 21, a day before Clinton announced him as her vice presidential pick.

Kaine then formally opposed TPP when he joined the ticket. His shift was not as dramatic as Clinton's, but it was new and noticeable nonetheless.

Read the full fact-checks at PolitiFact.com.

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