Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for PolitiFact in the Tampa Bay Times Washington, D.C., bureau. He previously covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phone: (202) 463-0575

Email: scontorno@tampabay.com

The Contorno file: PolitiFact.com

Twitter: @scontorno

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  1. PunditFact: Checking Ferguson shooting comments from the Sunday news shows

    Politics

    The killing of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in a St. Louis suburb is raising questions about the makeup of the police department and its response to the Aug. 9 shooting.

    In some cases, answers are hard to come by.

    On Sunday, actor and civil rights activist Jesse Williams appeared on CNN's State of the Union to discuss the shooting. Williams, right, best known for his role as a doctor on Grey's Anatomy, emphasized that journalists should not sensationalize findings that don't answer questions about why 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police — like a security video Ferguson authorities released of Brown allegedly robbing a convenience store minutes before he was killed....

    Ferguson, Mo., police Chief Thomas Jackson is shown Saturday leaving the parking lot of a gas station, which was burned during protests, after he announced the name of the police officer responsible for the Aug. 9 shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. The officer was identified as Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the police force. Brown’s killing sparked several days of violent protests in the city.
  2. PolitiFact: Clearing the air on coal issues (w/video)

    Perspective

    President Barack Obama's second-term promise to tackle climate change has clashed with election-year politics.

    Much of the political debate has focused on the Environmental Protection Agency's newly proposed regulations on existing power plants. If enacted, the rules would curb carbon emissions that scientists say cause global warming.

    Misinformation about these new regulations started even before the EPA released them. ...

    In coal-rich Appalachia, Republicans — and even some Democrats — have lashed out at the Obama administration, saying in ads that a “war on coal” will close down mines and power plants across the region.
  3. PolitiFact: Why Clinton, in '75, defended an accused rapist

    National

    How Hillary Clinton at age 27 came to defend an accused rapist in rural Arkansas has suddenly become a contested piece of history in a case otherwise decided 40 years ago.

    The case resurfaced in June when the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet, published a previously unreleased interview with Clinton from the 1980s. Back then, Clinton discussed her early work at a University of Arkansas legal aid clinic, where she took on the case of an indigent man charged with raping a 12-year-old girl. ...

    Evidence shows there was significant pressure on Clinton to take the case.
  4. PolitiFact: Statement on Obama's executive orders relies on incorrect premise

    National

    The statement

    "In the last three years alone, 13 times, the Supreme Court, unanimously, 9-0, including all of the president's liberal picks, have struck down the president's executive orders."

    Sean Spicer, RNC spokesman, July 6 on CNN's State of the Union

    The ruling

    This was a bit of deja vu for us. Just one week earlier, we heard a very similar claim from Rep. Bob Goodlatte. We rated it False....

  5. 'Hard Choices' not a page-turner, but mostly factual

    Perspective

    WASHINGTON

    Will she? Won't she?

    For more than a decade, Hillary Clinton's presidential aspirations have lingered around the political rumor mill. Would she take on President George W. Bush in 2004? Would 2008 be her year? Would she dare leave the State Department to mount a primary challenge to President Barack Obama in 2012? Is she ready to run again in 2016?

    Publication of Hard Choices, Clinton's memoir of her time as secretary of state, will only feed the speculation about her 2016 plans. In it, she portrays herself as a shrewd but pragmatic diplomat, and she responds sharply to Republican criticisms of her time at the State Department. ...

    Publication of Hard Choices, Clinton’s memoir of her time as secretary of state, will only feed the speculation about her 2016 plans. In it, she portrays herself as a shrewd but pragmatic diplomat, and she responds sharply to Republican criticisms of her time at the State Department.
  6. PolitiFact: Assumptions wrong on carbon proposal

    National

    The statement

    New carbon regulations will increase electric bills by "$17 billion every year" and "potentially put an average of 224,000 more people out of work every year."

    House Speaker John Boehner, June 2 on his website

    The ruling

    The estimates actually come from a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that was released in late May. We took a look at it last month, and noted it made several assumptions about the Obama administration's proposal. We warned that the findings of the study would be relatively unusable if those predictions did not come to light....

  7. Fact-checking claims about Hillary Clinton

    Perspective

    Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's new memoir about her time heading the State Department arrives in a couple weeks, further fueling the "will-she-won't-she?" chatter surrounding her potential 2016 presidential bid.

    In anticipation of her book Hard Choices, Clinton has hit the speaking circuit, providing fact-checkers a renewed opportunity to put the former and perhaps future Democratic contender on the Truth-O-Meter. Republicans, too, are discussing (and attacking) the former first lady as they await her decision....

    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23:  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill January 23, 2013 in Washington, DC. Lawmakers questioned Clinton about the security failures during the September 11 attacks against the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that led to the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.  
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) 160074996
  8. PolitiFact: In air wars with Koch brothers, are Democrats fighting Falses with Falses?

    Perspective

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn't think much of the ads that have aired this cycle from Americans for Prosperity, a group close to billionaire libertarian industrialists Charles and David Koch. "All of them are untrue," the Nevada Democrat said in February.

    In the slightest of backpedals, he amended that statement later. "I can't say that every one of the Koch brothers' ads are a lie, but I'll say this … the vast, vast majority of them are," Reid said....

    Koch Industries executive VP David Koch speaks at the CANCER: The Emperor of All Maladies Television Launch Event hosted by Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) and WETA at Remi on June 11(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision for Stand Up 2 Cancer/AP Images)
  9. PolitiFact reviews Americans for Prosperity's history, backers

    National

    If you don't know who the Koch brothers are — and the latest survey says half of you probably don't — get ready to hear their names a lot this election season.

    David and Charles Koch are the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, the Wichita, Kan., parent company of several manufacturers and energy companies, like papermaker Georgia-Pacific and refinery Flint Hill Resources.

    They also like politics: Their financial backing helped found Americans for Prosperity, a group that has spent millions on ads this election cycle in battleground races like Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina to help Republicans win the Senate....

    David Koch
  10. PolitiFact: Is healthcare.gov working 'great' now

    Health

    With a March 31 deadline fast approaching to purchase health insurance or risk a penalty, the White House is engaged in a media blitz encouraging people to check out healthcare.gov.

    " Healthcare.gov works great now," President Barack Obama said this week during a video appearance on comedian Zach Galifianakis' faux talk show Between Two Ferns....

    This image from the video shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on the faux talk show Between Two Ferns. Obama’s appearance was posted Tuesday on the comic website Funny or Die.
  11. PolitiFact: Sorting out the truth of attack ad on Alex Sink and Obamacare

    State Roundup

    A new ad from national Republicans in the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young features something old, something new, something borrowed, but not much that is true.

    The National Republican Congressional Committee unveiled the TV ad Wednesday — a 30-second attack on Democrat Alex Sink's support of President Barack Obama's health care law.

    "Alex Sink's loyalty is to them, not Florida. Why else would she continue to support Obamacare?" the ad says, while flashing a picture of Sink, Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Three hundred thousand Floridians will lose their current health plans, $700 billion cut from Medicare for seniors. And now nonpartisan government analysts say Obamacare will cost our economy up to 2.5 million jobs."...

    Democratic candidate for U.S. House Alex Sink is attacked in a Republican TV ad about Obamacare.
  12. Obama has signed 168 executive orders, not 1,000+

    National

    The statement

    President Barack Obama has issued upward of 1,000 executive orders, more than any modern president.

    Chain email

    The ruling

    The tradition of executive orders dates back to our first president, George Washington, though it was used sparingly through the first 100 years of the union.

    Executive orders are official actions taken by the president directing the federal government and bureaucracies. They carry the power of law, but can be revoked or amended by future administrations and are limited in scope. For example, Obama cannot use executive orders to raise the minimum wage for the entire country, but he can (and plans to) raise the minimum wage for workers hired under new federal contracts to $10.10 an hour....

  13. Reader poll results for PolitiFact's Lie of the Year

    National

    PolitiFact offered readers 10 finalists for the Lie of the Year for 2013. It's the fifth year in a row we've asked readers to weigh in via an online poll. We received 14,278 votes this year, a record turnout.

    First place among readers overwhelmingly went to President Barack Obama, for his repeated statement, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it."

    Here are the full results:...

  14. PolitiFact: Too simplistic to say 500,000 signed up for Obamacare

    State Roundup

    A lot of numbers were thrown at us when the White House finally announced Nov. 13 how many individuals had signed up for health care coverage through online marketplaces. The general consensus, including from many Democrats, is that the early returns were underwhelming.

    Still, there was a lot of confusion. How many successfully navigated through the error-laden federal marketplace website? Who actually purchased coverage? Where does Medicaid fit into all of this?...

  15. PolitiFact: Statistics show per capita GDP is at its highest rate ever

    National

    The statement

    The United States "has never been richer, if you look at per capita GDP."

    U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Nov. 12 in an interview on MSNBC

    The ruling

    As congressional Democrats and Republicans sit down for high-stakes budget talks, the rhetoric has flown furiously to familiar territory. Republicans want cuts and reforms to entitlement programs, while Democrats insist that revenue must be on the table, too....

    U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, center, is making the case for revenue in the current budget talks by noting that per capita gross domestic product in the country is at its highest level ever.