Fact Checker: Gadelha off on Mathis waste claims

Rene Gadelha, Marion, Republican candidate for Iowa Senate 34, 2016
Rene Gadelha, Marion, Republican candidate for Iowa Senate 34, 2016

Introduction

“Wasting millions of tax dollars on things like a ritzy golf tournament, while opposing a tuition freeze for Iowa students”

Source of claim: Rene Gadelha campaign ad in the state Senate District 34 race.

Analysis

Gadelha, a Republican, is using two 2014 legislative actions to attack Democratic incumbent Liz Mathis.

The first claim about wasting money on a “ritzy golf tournament” comes from Senate File 2349, which allocated funding from the Rebuild Iowa Infrastructure Fund, the Technology Reinvestment Fund and the Revenue Bonds Capitals II Fund.

An initial version of the bill included $1 million over two years to the Economic Development Authority for “a national golf tournament by a non-profit professional sports organization”.

Mathis voted for that initial version, but that version did not go into law. The golf tournament funding was taken out of the final version, which Mathis also supported.

So claiming the tournament was wasted money isn’t true because it didn’t happen. Gadelha also exaggerated when she said the tourney would waste millions, since the cost was projected to be $1 million over two years.

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The second claim says Mathis opposed a tuition freeze for Iowa students, citing Senate File 2347, an education funding bill that includes money for the Board of Regents and its three public universities.

Mathis supported the bill, which included a funding request from the regents that would allow a tuition freeze for in-state students at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the University of Northern Iowa. The bill passed and Regents held tuition at all three public universities.

However, during debate on the funding bill, Senate Republicans introduced an amendment that would specifically mandate the regents freeze that tuition for the school year. Mathis voted against that mandate, not against the tuition freeze made possible by the funding she supported.

Conclusion

This ad is misleading.

As far as the claim Mathis wasted millions on things that included a “ritzy golf tournament,” the funding for the tournament was removed from the bill Mathis supported that ultimately became law. The tournament also fell short of the “millions” of dollars of waste proclaimed.

Arguing Mathis opposed a tuition freeze does not line up with her actions. Mathis voted in favor of the funding that allowed for a tuition freeze. The amendment she opposed only removed regents discretion and required the board to freeze tuition.

This ad takes Mathis’ votes in the legislature out of logical context, which is why it earns an F.

Criteria

The Fact Checker team checks statements made by an Iowa political candidate/office holder or a national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advertisements that appear in our market. Claims must be independently verifiable. We give statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.

If you spot a claim you think needs checking, email us at factchecker@thegazette.com.

This Fact Checker was researched and written by Adam Carros.

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