Under the Dome

Politifact: Aiken video claim about Ellmers half true

Singer Clay Aiken’s entry last week into the Democratic primary to challenge U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, the Republican from Dunn, was accompanied by a well-received and personal video. In less than a week it was viewed about half a million times and helped him raised about $65,000 online.

It also drew the attention of the fact-checking website Politifact, which analyzed Aiken’s claim that Ellmers had voted 21 times to shut down the government. Half true, the analysts ruled.

Politifact reported that Aiken’s office sent a list of the 21 votes they counted. and that Ellmers’ staff “gave us a list of 24 votes she gave ‘to keep the federal government open.’ ” Politifact noted there was “significant overlap.”

Hardly anything is ever black and white in Washington, and so Politifact waded through the complications. Here’s its conclusion:

Aiken said Ellmers “voted for the government shutdown” 21 times. After reviewing the legislation, we found 26 votes from before and during the shutdown that were related. Ellmers consistently voted with Republicans, who wanted to defund Obamacare even at the cost of not funding other government functions.

But not all of the votes contributed directly to a shutdown, and Aiken’s 21-vote tally is inflated. The bulk of these votes are piecemeal appropriations votes, which were tactical maneuvers by Republicans to try to restart the more popular government functions without funding the health care law.

Overall, Aiken has a point that Ellmers repeatedly voted with those who took positions against compromise. Most significantly, she voted for budget measures that precipitated a shutdown and also against the final compromise measure that re-started the federal government. But to say she voted 21 times for a shutdown is an exaggerated number. So we rate Aiken’s claim Half True.

Here’s the entire analysis.