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Louis Jacobson, PolitiFact Senior Correspondent

Louis Jacobson

Louis Jacobson is the senior correspondent for PolitiFact and a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times. He has served as deputy editor of Roll Call and as founding editor of its legislative wire service, CongressNow. Earlier, he spent more than a decade covering politics, policy and lobbying for National Journal magazine. Since 2002, he has handicapped political races, including state legislatures, governors, congressional seats, state attorneys general and the electoral college, currently for Governing. He is senior author of The Almanac of American Politics 2016 and also contributed to the 2000 and 2004 editions. In 2004, Jacobson originated the "Out There" column on politics in the states, which ran in Roll Call and later in Stateline.org and which won five annual awards from Capitolbeat, the association of state capitol reporters and editors. He received the Weidenbaum Center Award for Evidence-Based Journalism from Washington University in St. Louis in 2014.

Phone: (202) 463-0576

The Jacobson file: PolitiFact.com

E-mail: ljacobson@tampabay.com

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  1. PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump's Time magazine interview on truths and falsehoods

    Perspective

    Confronted by Time magazine about his most flagrant falsehoods, President Donald Trump finally faced the question of why he makes so many unsubstantiated claims.

    "What have I said that is wrong?" Trump asked.

    Trump said his instinct is usually right, and he usually finds evidence supporting his claims that the media and his critics ignore — even as he continued to cite nonexistent evidence....

  2. Fact-checking Tallahassee: See what lobbyists, lawmakers got wrong, and right, during a week of session

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — PolitiFact Florida reporters attended committee hearings, peered in on floor debates and hoofed it to rallies and news conferences during a week of fact-checking lawmakers and lobbyists at the state Capitol.

    What we found: Less controversial issues produced largely accurate claims, but the truth suffered on more divisive topics, such as gun control and the "stand your ground" law....

    
Florida Capitol looking east, Tallahassee.
  3. Dreaming fondly of playtimes (and crushes) past, senators back mandatory recess

    Blog

    Appropriations Committee senators had a little nostalgic fun today while approving SB 78, a bill to require minimum standards for elementary school recess statewide.

    The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, would require each district school board to provide students between kindergarten and fifth grade with 20 minutes of daily recess. Some districts already do that, but others do not. This was the bill's second committee stop....

    First and second graders have recess at Sexton Elementary School in St. Petersburg Friday, Dec. 4, 2015. Around Florida and particularly in Pinellas County, parents have started pushing for public schools to bring back recess in elementary school.
  4. 'Religious liberties' measures diverge, but advance

    Blog

    Efforts by the Legislature to make explicitly clear the rights students and teachers have to express their religious beliefs in Florida public schools is ready for a floor vote in the Senate, while earning high praise in an initial House hearing.

    A fast-tracked measure in the Senate (SB 436) — one of President Joe Negron’s top priorities — passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, shortly before a House panel unanimously advanced its own version (HB 303)....

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, presents his “religious liberties” bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The panel sent it to the Senate floor on a 5-4 vote, with Democrats opposed.
  5. Plan to fortify religious expression in public schools quickly advancing

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Efforts by the Legislature to make explicitly clear the rights students and teachers have to express their religious beliefs in Florida public schools is ready for a floor vote in the Senate, while earning high praise in an initial House hearing.

    A fast-tracked measure in the Senate (SB 436) — one of President Joe Negron's top priorities — passed its second and final committee Tuesday on a party-line vote, shortly before a House panel unanimously advanced its own version (HB 303)....

    Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, is sponsoring a bill that would allow students to express their religious beliefs. It cleared a key Senate committee on Tuesday. [AP Photo | /Steve Cannon]
  6. Fact-checking claims from session on Alzheimer's, equal pay

    Blog

    PolitiFact Florida reporters looked into two claims heard around the Capitol today.

    No. 1: "Please make no mistake -- we are in the midst of an epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease," Rosemary Laird, a geriatrician at the Centre for Senior Health in Winter Park, told the Senate Health Policy Committee. "Currently, half a million Floridians have Alzheimer’s disease, and in less than 10 years, a 40 percent growth rate means that another 200,000 Floridians will develop this devastating illness."...

    St. Mark Village, Palm Harbor, resident Pearl Leimbach, 91, who has dementia, listens to music on her new MP-3 player with the help of Kimberly Glem, Care Center Life Enrichment Director at St. Mark Village in May 2016.
  7. After skirmish, Senate panel OKs formalizing non-abortion pregnancy centers into law

    Blog

    After a brief but divisive debate, the Senate Health Policy Committee Tuesday advanced a bill that would enhance an existing state pregnancy services program that excludes abortion referrals.

    SB 1130, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, would for the first time place into Florida statute a program that provides state funds to a network of pregnancy centers. The program has been operating since 2005 outside of statute, with funding provided on an annual basis during budget negotiations....

    Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, sponsored a bill that would for the first time place into Florida statute a program that provides state funds to a network of pregnancy centers.
  8. Remittances boost Mexico, but aren't No. 1 income

    Business

    The statement

    "Here's the fact: The No. 1 source of income into Mexico are Mexicans working here and sending the money back."

    Kellyanne Conway, White House adviser, Jan. 27 on CBS This Morning

    The ruling

    This would be more appropriately considered an alternative fact. Conway does have a point that "remittances" (as they are officially called) from individuals in the United States constitute a significant boost to the Mexican economy, and they may be of enormous importance to the individual families on the receiving end....

    ARLINGTON, VA - JANUARY 27: President Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway looks on in the Hall of Heroes at the Department of Defense on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Trump signed two orders calling for the "great rebuilding" of the nation's military and the "extreme vetting" of visa seekers from terror-plagued countries. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images) 695550541
  9. How to watch for a wave this Election Day

    Perspective

    As Election 2016 nears a close, one of the most pressing questions is whether Donald Trump's embattled presidential candidacy will hurt Republicans farther down the ballot.

    For the fourth consecutive campaign cycle, Perspective is providing a guide to measuring the scale of a "wave" by one party or the other.

    As we've noted in the past, the true strength of a wave is measured less by victories in places where the surging party is already strong, but more by victories in states that are either competitive or that actually lean toward the opposing party....

  10. The Buzz’s Florida congressional vulnerability rankings, October edition

    Blog

    It’s been six months since the Buzz last handicapped the most vulnerable congressional seats in Florida. Since then, the list of House-seat battlegrounds in the state -- and the intensity of several key races -- has only grown.

    Florida was already on track for a volatile season of congressional races, thanks to newly redrawn district lines, a contested U.S. Senate race that attracted U.S. House members, and a smattering of retirements. ...

  11. PolitiFact: Donald Trump off-base in claim about Michelle Obama ad against Hillary Clinton

    Perspective

    During the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Donald Trump tried to pull off the equivalent of making a bank shot while hanging upside down — that is, using the words of first lady Michelle Obama to hammer Hillary Clinton.

    "I've gotten to see the commercials that they did on you," Trump said. "And I've gotten to see some of the most vicious commercials I've ever seen of Michelle Obama talking about you, Hillary."...

    First lady Michelle Obama is campaigning hard for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She made her case recently at a rally in Charlotte, N.C.
  12. In context: Bill Clinton's remarks on health care

    National

    Is former President Bill Clinton one of Donald Trump's best surrogates? Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway joked that he might be, after comments Monday in Flint, Mich., that were quickly seized upon by Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act.

    Trump said Clinton "came out and told the truth" about the law when he "absolutely trashed" it, adding, "I bet he went through hell last night" with his wife....

    After former President Bill Clinton spoke Monday in Flint, Mich., his comments were seized upon by some Republicans.
  13. RNC misses mark in saying black youth unemployment is up

    Business

    The statement

    "Over the past eight years, black youth unemployment is up."

    Republican National Committee, Sept. 17 in an email

    The ruling

    This struck us as odd, because the overall unemployment rate has plunged from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 4.9 percent in August. Has African-American youth unemployment really moved in precisely the opposite direction as the nation as a whole?...

  14. Rise in food stamps far below Giuliani's claim

    Business

    The statement

    "Food stamps have gone up 2½ times under Barack Obama."

    Rudy Giuliani, Sept. 4 on CNN's State of the Union

    The ruling

    Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a surrogate for Donald Trump, recently criticized President Barack Obama's stewardship of the economy as he touted Trump's efforts to court African-American voters.

    "So, now you compare New York to Detroit and Baltimore, and you look at the number of crimes in both of those cities and you look at New York, you look at the unemployment rates, you look at the economic opportunities, and you see that I think Donald Trump is the first Republican since Jack Kemp, and me, to go into minority, poor communities and say, the Democrats have failed you for 50 years, and you are reflexively giving them your vote, and they are going from bad to worse," Giuliani said. "Food stamps have gone up 2½ times under Barack Obama. He should be ashamed of himself. Jobs should have gone up 2½ times."...

    Caption: (Tampa 12/15/2007) Republican primary presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani gives a speech at the Tampa Convention Center. (CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times) Summary: Republican presidential primary candidate Rudy Giuliani delivers a speech at the Tampa Convention Center.
  15. PolitiFact: Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim that Barack Obama 'founded' ISIS

    News

    Donald Trump has found a ferocious way to describe President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton: as the founder and co-founder of ISIS, the terrorist group behind beheadings of Americans and lethal attacks around the world.

    Speaking to thousands of supporters at a Broward County arena Wednesday, Trump vowed to "knock the hell out of ISIS" before pointing the finger at the Democrats....

    Donald Trump now claims that his ridiculous characterization of Obama’s ISIS role was just sarcasm.