Truth Test: Welfare for lap dances?

KUSA— Strippers and politics are rarely a good combination, but Republicans think they make for a dandy argument in a hot Colorado congressional race.

“What's Morgan Carroll thinking,” asks the announcer in the new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Welfare for lap dances?”

The NRCC is trying to help Mike Coffman hold his seat in Congress and this line of attack comes from a vote by Democratic challenger Morgan Carroll in the state senate last year.

CLAIM: “Carroll voted to allow welfare recipients to use your tax dollars at ATM's at strip clubs and pot dispensaries.”

VERDICT: True / needs context

The substance behind this claim, and the characterization of Carroll’s position on the issue is absolutely fair. It’s grounded in a vote Carroll took in the state senate last year.

However, you might hear this and think Carroll voted to change the law to allow public benefit cards to be used in pot shops and strip clubs. She didn't.

What she did… was vote against a bill to ban using those cards in those places. In other words, she voted to keep state law as it was.

That does put her on the side of the issue the ad says she's on—in favor of allowing withdrawals to continue at these locations.

Carroll’s campaign justifies this vote in part by arguing that in some communities, there aren’t many ATMs available and this bill would have made that problem worse. State regulators dismissed that argument, according to the minutes of committee hearings on the bill:

“Reggie Bicha, Executive Director of the Department of Human Services, testified in support of the bill. He explained that automated teller machines (ATMs) are a primary access point for individuals to receive cash-assistance benefits. He noted that most grocery stores have ATMs, and thus, there is no need for EBT recipients to access their benefits at the locations prohibited by the bill.”

However, one of Carroll’s other arguments against the bill ties into the broader theme this ad promotes.

CLAIM: Carroll’s vote is an example of how “politicians waste lots of money.”

VERDICT: Stretch

It's a stretch to say Carroll's vote against this law amounts to a waste of taxpayer money.

The bill didn't save (or cost) the state a dime. It also did nothing to change the fact that welfare benefits can still be withdrawn as cash.

Which means you can still go to an ATM at a gas station, pull out your cash, and spend it on anything you want-- even in a pot shop or strip club across the street.

That was a point opponents like Carroll made repeatedly when the bill was up for debate, while supporters of the bill argued we shouldn't make it any more convenient for welfare recipients to use the money in those businesses.

BOTTOM LINE: Carroll's vote on this bill is fair game. She had a chance to make it harder to pull out welfare money in pot shops and strip clubs and she voted against that.

But the ad tries to stretch that into a message about wasteful spending when the vote in question wouldn’t have changed the amount of money being spent or the ways in which people could spend it.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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