Saturday, May 26, 2018
Politics

PolitiFact Florida: Ron Paul says gas in Florida hit $6 a gallon

There's no doubt gas prices in Florida have been on the rise — but have they really hit $6 a gallon?

That was the surprising claim from Ron Paul at the Republican presidential debate in Arizona last week.

It started with CNN moderator John King asking candidates what should be done about Syria.

Paul, a congressman from Texas, was making a point about the downside of U.S. intervention in foreign countries, which led to an aside about gas prices.

"You know, I've tried the moral argument. I've tried the constitutional argument on these issues. And they don't go so well. But there's an economic argument, as well," Paul said.

"As a matter of fact, al-Qaida has had a plan to bog us down in the Middle East and bankrupt this country. That's exactly what they're doing. We've spent $4 trillion of debt in the last 10 years being bogged down in the Middle East. The neoconservatives who now want us to be in Syria, want us to go to Iran, have another war, and we don't have the money — today gasoline hit $6 a gallon in Florida — and we don't have the money."

International geopolitics is one thing, but $6 gas hits close to home. So we decided to check it out.

We emailed the Paul campaign, but we didn't hear back. Still, it didn't take long to find some likely suspects for sources. The Drudge Report, for example, featured the headline "$6 gas" just a few hours before the debate's start. The Drudge Report's link sent readers to a CBS Radio report from Tampa that a couple of gas stations in Florida are charging close to $6 a gallon.

The report's source was GasBuddy.com, a website that tracks prices by gas station so consumers can find the cheapest prices and avoid the highest. Sure enough, when we checked GasBuddy the morning after the debate, we found one gas station that was charging $5.79 a gallon and another that was charging $5.69.

Every other gas station in the state charged much less, with the next highest at $4.35.

Most notably, those two gas stations are suspiciously close to the beating heart of Florida tourism — the international airport that brings visitors to Walt Disney World.

"Florida residents know better than to get gas there. It's entirely to clip the tourists," said Gregg Laskoski, an analyst with GasBuddy. Citing those two stations "totally exaggerates the gas prices situation here in Florida."

Laskoski told us it's not the first time a few stations have given the wrong impression about gas prices statewide.

"Every year, these stories about a couple of gas stations in the Orlando area pop up, to represent extreme gas stations," he said. "This is not a new story; it's an old story with a new price."

Statewide averages are high by historical standards but much lower than Paul's scary $6 figure. The day after the debate, GasBuddy was reporting the average Florida price as $3.70.

AAA's Fuel Gauge Report set the average Florida price similarly, at $3.70 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA, said $6 a gallon was not accurate. And while average gas prices are going up, she said she didn't expect them to hit $6, at least not anytime soon.

"It is going up, and it's expected to continue to go up into the spring and the summer," Brady said. "It's possible by spring we could see prices at $4 a gallon."

Brady blamed the rising gas prices on mounting tensions with Iran; economic instability in Europe; fluctuating expectations of economic growth in the United States; and seasonal refinery maintenance.

We also spoke with Izzy Rommes, director of the division of standards at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which regulates gasoline.

He said he wasn't familiar with the Orlando gas stations in question, but said the state generally only acts on complaints of price gouging during hurricanes or other natural disasters.

"The market controls the price of gas absent a declaration of emergency," he said. "As long as the price is disclosed, there's nothing wrong with it."

Finally, we spoke with "Bob," last name unknown, who answered the phone at Suncoast Energys, one of the gas stations in question. No one there wanted to answer our questions, he said. He added that the station hasn't changed its prices since May of last year.

So, Florida drivers can take a small measure of gratitude in the fact that gas prices are not $6 a gallon.

Or $5 a gallon.

Or $4 a gallon.

The statewide average is $3.70.

As for Paul, we suspect he read headlines that gave the wrong impression on Florida gas prices. In fact, we found only two of approximately 7,100 gas stations that even come close to the price he cites.

We wouldn't bring a flaming Truth-O-Meter to a filling station, but that's what this one deserves. Pants on Fire!

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com/Florida.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18