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Reality Check: TV ad calls Falk 'best' choice for governor

Published On: Apr 19 2012 06:18:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 19 2012 09:40:11 PM CDT

The independent group Wisconsin for Falk is running a TV ad calling Democrat Kathleen Falk the "best" choice for governor. 

Falk and three other Democrats are vying for the party's nomination to take on Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a June recall election.

The information in the ad casts a rosy light on Falk's time as Dane County executive.

"Kathleen Falk, the first woman to become Dane County executive," the ad says. "She balanced the budget 14 years in a row."

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. Falk was the first woman to hold this office, but Falk, or any county executive past, present or future, is legally required to balance the budget every year.

People may agree or disagree with how Falk balanced the budget, but simply balancing the county budget is something any county executive would have to do.

"During tough times Falk brought in 26,000 new jobs," says the ad.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. The ad doesn't say when this happened, or how Falk attracted the jobs.

When Wisconsin for Falk was asked to back up its claims, it pointed to state labor numbers showing there were 26,000 more people working in 2011 when Falk stepped down than when she entered the office in 1997. But there were 10,000 more unemployed people, too. The county's total population grew over those 14 years. A more accurate picture is the unemployment rate, which started at 1.6 percent in 1997, rose to around 3.5 percent for seven of her years in office and ended around 5 percent.

How did she "bring these jobs in"? While the group didn't point to any specific initiative, it said that employers are "attracted to a county with good fiscal management."

"She worked with unions and saved taxpayers $10 million without taking away workers' rights," the ad says.

Although it's not stated in the ad, for this claim the ad is citing a period of three years where Falk negotiated pay cuts and changes to insurance plans that led to about a $10 million savings in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

If you have a political ad or claim that you want investigated, send it to  

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