PolitiFact gets another half-assed rating | WisCommunity

PolitiFact gets another half-assed rating

There's just no pleasing some people. The Journal Sentinel's PolitiFact is a case in point.

The Greater Wisconsin Committee sent a piece of direct mail about Jonathan Steitz, the Chicago corporate attorney running against State Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Kenosha) in a recall election Tuesday.

The mail says:

He doesn’t want you to know that he failed to pay his state taxes until a tax warrant forced him to pay up.

There's a footnote, with a citation for a Kenosha County court case so people can check it out.

PolitiFact checked it outand found:

The [court case] summary shows the state filed a tax warrant against Steitz in November 2003 for $1,875 plus $853 for interest and a penalty, for a total of more than $2,700. The summary also shows the warrant was paid off two months later...

Steitz's campaign doesn't dispute that, although it tried to offer some excuses:

Steitz campaign spokesman Dan Hunt said the tax warrant was issued because Steitz failed to make a sales tax payment in September 2002 for a business that he owned that staged events such as concerts...

So tha facts seem pretty obvious. Steitz didn't pay his taxes untl a tax warrant forced him to pay up -- just like the mail piece says.

Here's PolitiFact's ruling:

The Greater Wisconsin Committee made a flat statement -- "Jonathan Steitz failed to pay his taxes." There is a basis for it in that nine years ago Steitz failed to make one monthly sales tax payment for a business he owned. But the claim leaves out important details -- namely, that he paid up two months later and there is no evidence he failed to pay other taxes.

That fits our definition for Half True.

But the mailer doesn't claim Steitz never paid any taxes. It refers to a specific case, and even says he paid them after the warrant was issued. Apparently by PolitiFact standards the mailer would also have to list all of the times he paid on time.

We rate PolitiFact, once again, as Half-Assed.

[Disclosure: I serve on the Greater Wisconsin Committee board, but had not seen this piece of mail until PolitiFact wrote about it.]


August 15, 2011 - 10:00am