Truth Test: Owens goes after Love on treatment of vets, seniors

Posted at 7:33 PM, Oct 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-19 09:21:52-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The latest negative ad in Utah’s Fourth Congressional District is ostensibly about Congresswoman Mia Love’s treatment of veterans, though it winds up spending more time on the treatment of a particular tour group from the University of Utah.

If you watch the story above, you’ll see the entire ad from the Doug Owens campaign to get a sense of how it’s presented.

A Marine Corps veteran named Randy Beale speaks at the beginning and end. A casual TV viewer might think Beale is a veteran who has been ignored by Love. Actually, the Owens campaign says Beale does not have a personal complaint against Love, though he has a friend who does.

The ad makes two checkable assertions:

Claim one: Veterans contacted Love for help with benefits and never heard back.

The ad cites The Salt Lake Tribune, not mentioning the quote itself is from the newspaper's political columnist, Paul Rolly, who is a local institution many Utahns love to read because he runs with stories that involve a fair amount of second-hand gossip.

The quote: “Another veteran posted a comment on a [The] Salt Lake Tribune story that he had contacted Love's office for help with veterans' benefits and never heard back.”

Try to diagram the sourcing: a columnist loosely referencing an online comment in an unnamed story.

We simply don’t know if it’s fact, fudging, or fiction, and it sounds like we’re not alone in that regard so we call claim one: flimsy.

Claim two: And Utah seniors who "trekked" to meet Love "observed her ducking into a small office" after they'd been told, "Love was on a plane."

There are some problems with the way this claim is presented: the citation for this claim is a letter from a woman named Joan Rawlins, and another Paul Rolly column in the The Salt Lake Tribune. These citations actually contradict each other, because the newspaper had access to the same letter from Joan Rawlins and they chose not to include the citing of Love ducking into a small office.

Fox 13 heard from four people on the tour, including Rawlins and one of the two people who say they saw Mia Love ducking away while her staff said she was on a plane, those tour goers are clearly intelligent, accomplished people who we take very seriously.

That said, Mia Love’s staff have provided Fox 13 with a receipt and her itinerary on an airline flight that left Reagan National Airport 20 minutes before the sighting.

It’s far more believable that a quick sighting is mistaken than that Love’s campaign staff is lying and forging an airline document.

So, we find this claim fudging, bordering on fiction.