CBS46 Fact Check: Karen Handel versus Bob Gray, Dan Moody - CBS46 News

CBS46 Fact Check: Karen Handel versus Bob Gray, Dan Moody

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Karen Handel served as chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and served as Georgia's previous Secretary of State. Karen Handel served as chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and served as Georgia's previous Secretary of State.
Dan Moody is a former member of the Georgia State Senate and delegate to the State Republican Convention. He was also personally endorsed by U.S. Senator David Perdue. Dan Moody is a former member of the Georgia State Senate and delegate to the State Republican Convention. He was also personally endorsed by U.S. Senator David Perdue.
Bob Gray is a former Johns Creek city councilman who's placed his support for President Trump as a central point in his campaign. Bob Gray is a former Johns Creek city councilman who's placed his support for President Trump as a central point in his campaign.
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

The special congressional race to fill Tom Price’s vacant District 6 House seat has come with a wave of truths, half-truths and falsehoods in television advertising and social media. Our CBS46 news team wanted to fact check the content in some of the more popular political ads.

Karen Handel, who is one of the 11 Republican contenders in this upcoming election, drew the most support within her party in a recent Special Election poll. The survey predicts Handel will receive 21 percent of the vote, with democratic candidate Jon Ossoff at nearly 42 percent. (If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote plus one on April 18, the top two will advance to a runoff election on June 20.)

Enough with the Gimmicks

In her "Enough with the Gimmicks" advertisement, she notes her past political accomplishments and takes not-so-subtle swipes at a few republican candidates who are lagging behind her. In the advertisement, her two major claims are that she implemented the photo identification law and balanced the Fulton County budget without raising taxes.

Her first claim is true. Handel was Georgia's Secretary of State during the 2008 election cycle, which saw record minority and overall voter participation, and she implemented and defended the state's voter photo ID law. (The National Conference of State Legislatures classifies Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin as the most strict states for voting regulations.)

The law--opposed by then President Obama--was criticized as being unnecessary in preventing voter fraud and supposedly implemented to create barriers between polls and voters. (Aspiring voters who do not have one of the law's required forms of photo ID can still vote with a provisional ballot, which can be obtained by contacting a county's registrar's office or Department of Driver Services.)

Chairman of the Board of Commissions

Her second claim is accurate, but potentially misleading.

Prior to serving as Georgia's Secretary of State, Handel was elected to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners in 2003. The following fiscal year's budget, which she played the central role in completing, received praise from her constituents and local tax watchdogs as being a fulfilled campaign promise. (Here are the provisions within the county's budgeting process.)

According to an AJC article from 2004, Handel was able to carve out $37 million of the commission's tentative 2004 budget by cutting "low hanging fruit," which included eliminating several take-home cars and cellphones services (provided to county employees) and cutting unnecessary entertainment expenses. (She was also able to decrease taxes to offset water and sewer rates, allocate $300,000 for the 24/7 homeless center in downtown Atlanta and provide funding for eight new police officers, according to the editorial.)

Balancing the budget

One aspect of that potentially misleading claim is that Fulton County, which uses a zero-base budgeting system, requires a balanced budget to be drawn at the beginning of each year--and redrawn if unbalanced and not approved. Considering it an accomplishment in that context would be a half-truth, as it's more so a superfluous proclamation already mandated by law.

The second aspect is that the budget cuts, apart from the ones previously mentioned, are based on ambiguous definitions of "shortfalls" and "deficits," as well as the necessary extensive use of cash reserves, which are accrued over past years' savings. (Another AJC article in 2004 quoted Commissioner Robb Pitts who voted against her plan, saying it's not "a sound budget." Handel wholly avoided the $75 million property tax increase, which was planned in the original budget, by drawing significantly more from cash reserves than the initially allocated $12 million from that same original budget.)

Republican contenders Bob Gray and Dan Moody, who put a remarkable $1.9 million of his own money into his campaign, have also endorsed advertisements oriented toward her spending and political past.

Running for herself

Moody's "Running for herself" advertisement notes her multiple failed attempts at different political seats. For instance, she lost the election to the Board of Commissions the year before she won in 2003, she resigned early from her position as Georgia's Secretary of State in January of 2010 and vied for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race in the 2014 election, which was won by David Perdue. (Handel made the announcement in December of 2009 that she would resign as secretary to concentrate full time on her 2010 gubernatorial campaign, which was unsuccessful.)

Moody's advertisement also resurfaced an unproven assertion that Handel explicitly used tax payer dollars to purchase a car when she was Secretary of State, which was promulgated by Perdue throughout her 2014 senatorial campaign. (Moody, a former republican member of the Georgia State Senate and delegate to the State Republican Convention, was also personally endorsed by U.S. Senator David Perdue, who called him "one of us" in a political advertisement on his Facebook page.)

Georgia's only true conservative

Former Johns Creek city councilman Bob Gray--expected to be nearly tied with fellow republicans Judson Hill and Dan Moody--also criticized Handel in a social media advertisement for flip-flopping on U.S.-Syrian relations. Gray markets himself as being consistent and Georgia's "only true conservative," as opposed to Handel. (He has also been one of this election season's most visible advocates for President Trump, apart from fellow candidates Moody and Bruce LeVelle, the Executive Director of the National Diversity Coalition for Trump.)

Georgia's District 6 was split almost halfway in the 2016 presidential election--48 percent voting Donald Trump and 47 percent Hillary Clinton. Many of the candidates have made their admiration or disdain of the current presidential administration a focal point to gain support.

The areas of interest included in the article are based on our viewer's comments and social media interest. Leave a comment if there's a statement or issue you'd like fact checked or want general clarification on. (The Opinion Savvy Poll was sponsored by Fox 5.)

Early voting has already started, but election day for Georgia's District 6 is on Tuesday, April 18.

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