Truth Check: It’s misleading to say Stapleton missed meetings only to have fun

DENVER — The Truth Check team continues to look at the candidates and their commercials in the 2018 midterms. Every advertisement that claims something -- we will research and determine if the candidates are actually telling the truth.

You can watch our previous “Truth Check” segments here and you can read our criteria and standards here.

The latest Truth Check involves the an attack on Walker Stapleton, the Republican nominee for Governor. The commercial is paid for by Good Jobs Colorado, a PAC funded by groups like the Democratic Governor's Association. 

CLAIM #1 

Walker Stapleton was absent from the crisis involving PERA, the State's Retirement Program

Exact quote in ad: "Precarious, critical, as Colorado's pension system barreled to a funding crisis where was our State Treasurer? Walker Stapleton was absent."

Verdict: False

Reason: The Truth Check believes it is false to say Stapleton was absent from the PERA funding crisis in the State. Numerous articles, including this one from the non partisan Denver Business Journal, highlight Stapleton's effort to improve the Program. The Business Journal's headline is literally "Colorado State Treasurer not letting up on quest to reform PERA."

It is true that Stapleton was not present at the State Capitol earlier this year when PERA reform was passed. However, Capitol Sources tell the Truth Check that Stapleton's presence would have likely hurt the bipartisan effort -- making it more political -- since his gubernatorial run was in progress.

CLAIM #2 

Walker Stapleton missed 33 PERA meetings while serving as State Treasurer

Exact quote in ad: "Even though overseeing our pension system is one of his top responsibilities, Stapleton missed nearly half the pension meetings, 33 in all."

Verdict: True

Reason: The Truth Check has reviewed public minutes and documents provided by Good Jobs Colorado and we confirmed Stapleton missed 33 meetings. However - important context is needed. Stapleton attended 41 meetings total while in office and on nearly every occasion he missed sent a Deputy in his place. As the Truth Check showed in a previous report, that practice was not viewed as irregular by the Board. 

CLAIM #3

Walker Stapleton missed PERA meetings to attend events that benefited him like golf outings and political events 

Exact quote in ad: "Stapleton was busy at things like political events, golf outings and lunching with campaign donors."

Verdict: Misleading

Reason: The Truth Check believes it is false to say Stapleton was absent from the PERA meetings in order to attend events that personally benefited him all the time. Good Jobs Colorado is again basing their claim off of Stapleton's public work schedule. 

It is true to say Stapleton missed PERA meetings for speaking engagements or political events from time to time.

The Truth Check believes however elected officials have responsibilities that often include speaking engagements. For instance, Governor Hickenlooper's schedule is often full of speaking events.

On three occasions, Stapleton missed PERA meetings for speaking engagements however they were for organizations like the Rotary of Highlands Ranch, the Colorado Press Association, and Opportunity Coalition at Innovation - hardly events that personally benefited the Stapleton for Governor campaign.

On other occasions Stapleton went to golf outings -- but they were to benefit prostate cancer research -- not the Stapleton campaign.

It is true that on two occasions Stapleton missed PERA meetings to lunch with individuals who would eventually donate to his campaigns. The Truth Check believes Stapleton would have better served the state on those occasions by attending the PERA meeting, however to suggest he routinely did this is misleading.

Not to mention the pictures used in the commercial are clearly "photo-shopped."