Truth Check: Misleading claims in Johnston PAC commercial

DENVER — The commercials of candidates campaigning to be the next governor of Colorado are now in full gear.

Throughout the 2018 election season, the FOX31 Problem Solvers will be examining the commercials to see what is honest and what is misleading. See some of our previous “Truth Check” segments here.

You can also Read our criteria and standards.

Today’s segment focuses on a spot paid for by a Political Action Committee supporting Michael Johnston’s campaign for Governor. The PAC is called “Frontier Fairness.”

Claim No. 1

Johnston helped students succeed as principal. 

Exact quote in ad: “He taught in one of the poorest schools in Mississippi, moved home to Colorado to become a principal, turning around at risk school – helping every student get accepted to college.”

Verdict: NOT EXACTLY

Reason: In 2008, then presidential candidate Obama is quoted at a campaign stop at Mapleton Expeditionary School of the Arts (where Johnston was principal)  as saying “All 44 seniors of this years graduating class have been accepted to more than 70 colleges and universities across the country,” Obama said.

The Colorado Department of Education doesn’t track acceptance rate data — but they do track who actually went to college and how many students may have dropped out of a class. According to the Colorado Department of Education — only 36 percent of students graduating in 2009 went to college –– that’s the year Johnston became a state Senator. Data from the Colorado Department of Education also shows 76 students at the start of the Class of 2008′ Junior year — there was just 46 students when that class began it’s Senior Year. That suggests a high drop out rate.

Claim No. 2 

Johnston passed the Dream Act 

Exact quote in ad: “In the state Senate, he passed the Dream Act to protect immigrant kids”

Verdict: MISLEADING

Reason: The Dream Act is generally considered a pending legislation before Congress — not legislation passed in the Colorado General Assembly. The Johnston PAC is referring to SB – 13, which was known as the Asset Act, which Johnston passed giving unauthorized immigrants in Colorado access to in-state tuition. That is very different from the DREAM Act before Congress — which deals with federal legalization questions.

Claim No. 3

Johnston helped pass anti discrimination and anti NRA legislation 

Exact quote in ad: “Passed a bill to erase racial discrimination in the justice system and took on the NRA twice and won”

Verdict: True

Reason: Johnston did vote — and in many cases sponsor – legislation to pass such bills. However he did not do it alone. In many cases he had the help of other politicians as well.

PAC Response

“Mike Johnston’s impressive record speaks for itself—He turned around a troubled high school as a principal, led the fight to pass Colorado’s version of the Dream Act and battled the NRA to help pass two key pieces of gun safety legislation. Those accomplishments speak volumes about Mike Johnston’s values and his ability to bring people together to get big things done.”

AlertMe