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Reality Check: Ad Claims Clark Shorted Veterans

Published On: Aug 03 2011 06:08:05 AM CDT   Updated On: Aug 03 2011 07:47:11 AM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

Claims about veterans may have some asking questions about a recent political ad in the recall races.

That ad against Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, said he shorted the state's veterans. Clark is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Luther Olsen in the 14th Senate District recall election.

It's yet another TV ad from Wisconsin Club for Growth, a conservative group that has been spending millions on ads in the recall race.

The group's website said it's based in Sun Prairie, with the address of a post office box. A spokesman said they don't publicly disclose their office location.

"They fought for freedom, and the American dream," the ad says, while showing various video of service members. "But when it was time to help them pursue their dreams, Rep. Fred Clark let them down."

A WISC-TV analysis found this needs clarification. The ad is referring to a provision in the 2009 state budget, which Clark voted for.

Lawmakers modified a state program which paid for veterans' tuition because of a change in the federal GI bill. Under the new version, the federal government offered to pay colleges directly for veterans' tuition, and state lawmakers saw it as a chance to grab federal dollars for a program being paid by state taxpayers. Clauses were included so any vets who couldn't get their costs fully covered by the feds were made whole by the state, meaning veterans in the program didn't see a change in dollar amounts.

The primary change veterans saw was in how many credits they could take and get covered. Before 2009, veterans could take 128 credits at any college, with no limit to the number of schools they could take 128 credits at. Clark voted to change it to 128 credits total and Republican lawmakers led efforts this year to double that total.

Next, the ad connects this veterans issue to another one.

"At the same time (Clark was) voting to give tuition breaks to illegal aliens," the ad says.

WISC-TV found this also needs clarification. The 2009 state budget allowed undocumented residents to get in-state tuition if they graduated from a Wisconsin high school and showed proof they were applying for citizenship. In 2009, about 75 people benefitted from the program statewide. The 2011 state budget eliminated that provision. Clark voted for the 2009 budget and against the 2011 budget.

Send ideas for a "Reality Check" to realitycheck@channel3000.com.

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