Odds-on-favorite for Indiana governor Mike Pence has a strained relationship with the truth, according to a Pulitzer Prize-winning Website. Of 13 recent statements made by the six-term Republican congressman that were fact-checked by PolitiFact.com, 10 were either false, mostly false or half true. Only three were rated true.
An accounting of Indiana's Sixth District congressman's campaign contributions by the Center for Responsive Politics, however, show his relations with the economic elite are anything but troubled. Since 2000, Pence has collected $10.3 million, with securities and investment, lawyers/law firms, health professionals, real estate, and miscellaneous manufacturing and distributing the top five industries underwriting his career.
Pence was elected to represent Indiana's Second Congressional District in 2000 and was re-elected five times to a redrawn Sixth District, which sprawls along the Indiana border with Ohio from just south of Fort Wayne to Columbus. It includes the cities of Muncie, Anderson, Richmond and Columbus.
In May 2011, Pence announced he would leave Congress and run for the seat held by outgoing Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, who could not run for a third term.
In recent years, Pence has risen to a leadership position in the House GOP caucus. According to the biography page on his Web site:
"He also was elected unanimously by House Republicans to serve as House Republican Conference Chairman in November 2008. In his role as Conference Chairman, he helped to develop and disseminate the message of the Republican Conference and to promote its Members. Speaker of the House John Boehner described Pence as 'a servant leader and cheerful warrior who will never lay down his arms in the fight for a government that honors our Constitution and reflects the consent of the governed.'"
The Columbus native, however, is far less dedicated to the truth than he is to the Republican Party, according to PolitiFact's "Mike Pence file." Produced by the St. Petersburg Times newspaper, the Web site researched and found five recent Pence statements on some of the major issues of the day to be 100 percent false.
Feb. 12, 2009 - Pence told Fox News that the Democrats' stimulus bill had "$30 million in there to protect mice in San Francisco."
"Pence's comment verges on a scare tactic." - PolitiFact.com
PolitiFact's analysis found that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat, "did not put an earmark in the bill to save the mice. In fact, there's no money in the bill for mice."
May 12, 2009 - Pence wrote in an e-mail that Democrats propose "a government-controlled health care plan that will deprive roughly 120 million Americans of their current health care coverage."
PolitiFact checked the claim with the congressman's staff, which cited a report from the health care consulting firm, Lewin Group. "Even if you believe that an expansive government health care plan would drive private insurers out of business, that still doesn't account for Pence's 'deprive' claim," PolitiFact found.
With respect to the Lewin, the PolitiFact researchers warned, "The group says it operates with editorial independence, but it is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, which also offers private health insurance."
May 2, 2010 - Pence said on NBC's Meet the Press, "This administration and this Congress have been systematically cutting funding to border security since the Democrats took control."
Again, PolitiFact found Pence's statement to be false. "Funding for fencing is down, but funding for border security is up. In fact, discretionary spending on border security is up 55 percent between 2007 and 2011, even with a small proposed cut in 2011."
July 20, 2010 - At a news conference, Pence said, "Should Democrats get their way, every income tax bracket will increase on Jan. 1, 2011. Every single one."
PolitiFact's analysis concluded the opposite. "Pence's comment verges on a scare tactic. While Pence would have been entirely accurate to say, 'If the Democrats fail to extend the expiring tax cuts, all tax brackets will increase,' he didn't."
Nov. 7, 2010 - During an interview on ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Pence said, "Anybody who is familiar with the historical data from the IRS knows that raising income tax rates will likely actually reduce federal revenues."
On that statement Politifact concluded: "The historical data doesn't show that. Experts said the economic theory Pence is drawing from doesn't apply in the current situation, and an increase in tax rates would not cause tax revenues to decline."
The Center for Responsive Politics bills itself as the nation's premier research group that tracks money and its effect on elections and public policy in the United States. "Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the organization aims to create a more educated voter, an involved citizenry and a more transparent and responsive government," its About Us page says.
"Since 2000, Pence has collected $10.3 million, with securities and investment, lawyers/law firms, health professionals, real estate, and miscellaneous manufacturing and distributing the top five industries underwriting his career."
The center primarily serves that mission through its OpenSecrets.org Web site, which it calls "the most comprehensive resource for federal campaign contributions, lobbying data and analysis available anywhere."
According to OpenSecrets' Mike Pence page, the Republican has accepted $10.3 million in campaign contributions for his six congressional elections and spent $10.2 million.
His five top contributors included:
- Club for Growth, a tax exempt group that funds conservative candidates: $90,188;
- Cummins Inc., a Columbus-based heavy equipment manufacturer: $77,000;
- National Association of Convenience Stores, a national trade association: $65,988;
- Eli Lilly, Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company: $63,500; and
- Associated Builders and Contractors, a national trade association: $62,450.
Also among the top 20, all contributing more than $36,000 to Pence:
- Securities and investments - Credit Union National Association, Hasten Bancorp, City Securities and Cardinal Ventures;
- Health insurance - UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross/Blue Shield;
- Telecommunications - AT&T;
- Tobacco - RJ Reynolds; and
- Professional trade groups - representing home builders, auto dealers, dentists and realtors.
"The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organization's PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families," OpenSecrets says. "Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates."
Steven Higgs can be reached at .