PolitiFact was recently tasked with either affirming or debunking the claim that Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos used taxpayer funds to create and distribute a video attacking President Obama and praising Florida GOPers for moving Florida “in the right direction.”
The video, titled “Something Different is Happening in Florida,” was released on Haridopolos’ Senate YouTube channel.
The video touts things like Florida’s tax cuts, balanced budget and welfare reform before informing viewers how S&P upgraded the state’s credit-rating outlook from negative to stable. (PolitiFact Florida previously reviewed a less-artfully worded claim about the “upgrade” from Scott and rated it False.)
The overall point is to juxtapose the country’s dreary state of affairs under Obama’s leadership against Florida’s, which is apparently on the up under the “right” leaders.
The video closes by referring viewers to www.flsenate.gov for more information.
There was almost an immediate response from state Democrats. State Rep. Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg, reposted the video on his Facebook page and commented: “This campaign video is being distributed by the Florida Senate using your tax dollars. It’s an inappropriate use of funds and an inaccurate message.”
PolitiFact points out that the video did not, in fact, take any money to make. Therefore, it cannot be said that the video was made with taxpayer funds. The video was created on Haridopolos’ personal Apple laptop by a staffer who was on unpaid leave.
However, Kriseman’s charge that it is “being distributed” with taxpayer resources is a different issue. Because the video directs viewers to the Florida Senate site, it can be said that it is being at least promoted with taxpayer dollars.
The last point is what gives Kriseman’s statement some credence — when he says the video is being distributed by the Florida Senate using your tax dollars. That said, the video itself was produced and made using private resources and on private time. (As an aside, we wonder if Haridopolos got the rights to use the image of Obama and other images in the ad?)
We considered rating Kriseman’s statement — “This campaign video is being distributed by the Florida Senate using your tax dollars” — on the Truth-O-Meter. But we decided to hold off, thinking it might actually make things murkier. In short, the video was made without taxpayer dollars but is being promoted and defended with taxpayer resources.