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Politics / Issues

PolitiFact Florida: Dissecting Ads by Pam Bondi, Charlie Crist


It's election season, and the ads are coming fast and furious on the airwaves. So we talk with PolitiFact Florida's Josh Gillen to cut to the chase with ads by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi - and Democratic candidate for governor, Charlie Crist.

First, Bondi's new TV ad is called "Streets," and shows a serious-looking Bondi touting her accomplishments during her first term in office. One of those is a claim that she has closed down all of the state's so-called "pill mills." Those are the rampant cases of prescription drug abuse by Florida doctors.

"With our amazing law enforcement, we closed down the pill mills. Of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctors in the country, 98 of them lived in Florida. Today," she says, "there are none."


Here's PolitiFact Florida's take:

Bondi said that of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctors, 98 were in Florida, and "today, there are none." She cited DEA numbers that since 2010, the number of physicians who dispensed the most oxycodone in the nation and also lived in Florida had dropped from 98 of the top 100 to zero. The DEA told us there are a few problems with that stat. First, it was for the biggest purchasers of oxycodone, not dispensers -- the DEA said the list didn't track dispensation. Second, the number in 2010 was 90 and not 98, although the 98 figure was widely reported by the state and the media in the past few years. Third, in 2014 there was one top 100 oxycodone purchaser in Florida, a buyer for a cruise ship fleet. The DEA data only tracks top purchasers, not whether actual drug use decreased, but other sources confirmed oxycodone abuse is on a downward trend in the state, although there’s debate over whether a 2011 law Bondi supported is the sole factor. While the specifics are a bit off, the gist and context of what Bondi is saying is accurate: There are no more Florida pill mill doctors in the DEA’s top 100. We rate the statement Mostly True.

Next up, we return to the back-and-forth accusations hitting the airwaves between Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist.

In his latest ad, Crist is claiming that, quote, "when Rick Scott cut education by over a billion dollars, thousands lost their jobs, class sizes went up, our kids paid the price. "Why did he do it? To pay for millions in handouts to big corporations. Tax cuts here, budget cuts there. Thousands of teaching jobs gone."


So, did Rick Scott  cut education to pay for tax breaks?


Here's what PolitiFact Florida has to say:

Crist said that Scott cut education by over a billion dollars, meaning thousands of teachers "lost their jobs" and "class sizes went up." The kernel of truth to this claim is that the number of teachers did decline and the percentage of classes out of class-size compliance rose in 2011. But this is outweighed by a long list of omissions -- and it doesn’t reflect Scott’s complete tenure. The first problem is it glosses over the fact that the cut took place in 2011, and was later followed by increases. In addition, it is an overstatement to suggest that "thousands" of teachers lost their jobs due to the 2011 state budget cuts. Statewide data shows the number of teachers dropped by about 1,405, but that includes departures for any reason, not just layoffs. The percentage of class sizes out of compliance with the mandate increased by about 1 percentage point between Crist’s last budget and Scott’s first budget. However, there are multiple district and state factors that influence class size and the compliance rules have repeatedly changed in recent years. We rate this claim Mostly False.

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