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PolitiFact

Fact-checking Illinois politicians, written by the Better Government Association.

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Fact-check: Horrible as it was, Chicago’s 1995 heat wave was not most fatal event in city’s history

It wasn’t the deadliest domestic tragedy prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as Rep. Sean Casten asserted in arguing for more climate change action.

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Fact-check: Downstate Republican’s claim on Nancy Pelosi’s Jan. 6 security role forgets someone — Mitch McConnell

PolitiFact and other fact checkers have debunked numerous claims contending Pelosi alone was responsible for Capitol security. Davis’ claim pointed to the speaker’s role in directing Capitol security leaders, rather than all of Capitol security. But it’s still highly misleading.

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Fact-check: Pritzker’s office admits gaffe on using federal funds for unemployment debt — but won’t say if he will do so

At the time Pritzker misspoke during the July 21 interview, many other states had used or were planning to use American Rescue Plan Act money to replenish unemployment funds. Illinois currently owes the federal government $4.2 billion in unemployment advances.

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Fact-check: Southern Illinois Republican wrong in claim about Medicaid and Illinois’ undocumented immigrants

State Sen. Terri Bryant drew a false comparison. No U.S. citizens would be barred from Medicaid unless their income was too high to qualify. And the beneficiaries of the Illinois plan who are in the U.S. illegally would also have to fall below the same income restrictions.

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Fact-check: Jury’s in on Lightfoot claim that Cook County criminal courts are ‘shut down’ — because, well, juries are in

Last year, Cook County did suspend jury trials amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Contrary to what Lightfoot claimed, however, the county’s criminal courts have continued their other operations over the past 15 months, and jury trials started up again this March.

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Fact-check: Downstate Republican blowing smoke with claim Prairie State is nation’s ‘cleanest’ coal plant

Experts cite multiple ways to evaluate which coal plants are the "cleanest" beyond total CO2 emissions. Prairie State ranks nowhere near the top based on any of the yardsticks.

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Fact-check: Did GOP lawmakers push for independent map commission?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois Republicans didn’t make any effort to get an independent group to redraw Illinois’ legislative districts. But that ignores legislation proposed and promoted by the GOP.

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Fact-check: State senator makes the grade with remark about public support for elected Chicago school board

"The idea that there is opposition to this, it is super-minority opposition," said state Sen. Robert Martwick, a Northwest Side Democrat who has pushed for a fully elected board for years. "It’s just a couple of loud voices."

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Fact-check: Does Durbin claim about Chicago area’s lead pipes hold water? Flushing it out is no lead-pipe cinch

While Chicago is unique when it comes to its number of known lead service lines, experts told us it’s tough to determine the accuracy of Durbin’s statistic because no national inventory exists.

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Fact-check: Democrats’ relief bill doesn’t give states free hand in spending — but it doesn’t tie them very tight either

The law — dubbed the "American Rescue Plan" by President Joe Biden — is more flexible than previous aid packages in how money can be spent, experts told us. But it’s also not a free-for-all.

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Fact-check: Illinois didn’t move the needle on COVID-19 vaccinations as much as Pritzker claims

We found Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statement was supported by one metric measured over a few days but glossed over an otherwise spotty vaccination record.

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Fact-check: Not all Republicans’ shots at Pritzker’s vaccination priorities in vain

The Illinois Republican Party said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s "Hierarchy of Vaccine Priorities" puts prisoners, politicians, and college students ahead of "individuals with high-risk health factors, and everyone else."

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Fact-check: Yes, conservatives did share false post about Pritzker’s daughter

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Republican elected officials, propaganda sites and radio hosts were sharing a story that falsely claimed a picture showed his teenage daughter violating COVID rules. The governor is correct.

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Fact-check: Illinois isn’t No. 1 in Census spending, but Pritzker’s ‘nation-leading’ claim still counts

In the past, Pritzker’s statements about Illinois’ supremacy in Census spending have at times been less ambiguous. In a Dec. 4 statement, he left little doubt he thought Illinois ranked No. 1 — a claim that has never been true.

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Fact-check: No beauty in Oberweis’ milking of Underwood’s answer to ‘rioting and looting’ question

While Underwood does not directly condemn "rioting and looting" during that appearance, taken in the full context of her remarks it is a stretch to suggest her praise of "beautiful protests" extends to looting and rioting.

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Fact-check: Gauging impact of Pritzker’s tax proposal on large and small Illinois businesses proves taxing

Corporations would see an increase in their flat-rate income tax under the plan that takes effect if the amendment is approved. But only a wealthy subset of small businesses, which generally pass their profits to shareholders, would be affected — and data suggests that portion would be small.

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Fact-check: Durbin’s claim about COVID-19 effect on U.S. economy vs. rest of the world off by a factor of wrong

Asked repeatedly to provide records, studies or any other support to back up the claim, Sen. Dick Durbin’s staff did not respond.

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Fact-check: Thousands of driver’s licenses seized at O’Hare were bogus — just like Facebook post’s claim about voter fraud

Yes, nearly 20,000 fake driver’s licenses were seized at O’Hare in the first half of the year, but the Facebook post was misleading in suggesting that they are all linked to registered voters who are Democrats. There’s no hint of any connection between the confiscated fake IDs and Democrats or voter fraud. 

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Fact-check: Peoria Republican’s claim about U.S. Postal Service surplus belongs in the Dead Letter Office

"It’s not even breaking even on its annual expenses and its annual income," said G. William Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and former Republican staff director for the Senate Budget Committee. "I don’t know how anybody could say they have a surplus." 

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Fact-check: Pritzker’s claims about Illinois’ historic unemployment spike not out of line

Experts told us it was fair for Pritzker to highlight those early spikes given the unique challenges state unemployment systems faced in processing claims because of the sudden health crisis sweeping the nation.

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Fact-check: Social media post firing blanks in claim about COVID-19 masks and concealed weapons

The Facebook post comes from a blog post about an Illinois statute that prohibits carrying a firearm while wearing a face covering. But the Illinois State Police said that law does not apply to lawful concealed weapon permit holders who abide by the state’s COVID-19 mask requirements.

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Fact-check: Pritzker didn’t give ‘pay raises to his politician buddies’ while public distracted by COVID-19

Illinois Rising Action, a nonprofit launched in March by America Rising Squared, is out with an ad accusing Pritzker of putting the interests of politicians above those of working families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Fact-check: It’s state lawmaker’s claim that coronavirus was ‘man-made’ that is actually made-up

"I believe someone was in cahoots for some reason, and I think it just got a little bit out of control and spread a whole lot further than they anticipated," Illinois Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Lightford said. But to leading experts, the research is clear: The genetic structure of the virus shows it could not have been created in a lab — or be "man-made."

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Fact-check: Downstate congressman’s claim about Chicago’s share of Illinois COVID-19 cases is 100% wrong

It’s common for residents outside of the Chicago area to refer to the significantly larger and more populous northeastern region collectively as "Chicago," according to state political experts. But they said the inaccuracy reinforces regional stereotypes.

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Fact-check: Pelosi laying all of Illinois’ fiscal mess at Rauner’s feet ignores 100 years of fellow culprits

As the state’s chief executive, Bruce Rauner played a starring role in the showdown that caused the budget crisis. But he had plenty of co-stars among Democrats, including longtime House Speaker Michael Madigan.

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Fact-check: Testing Lightfoot’s COVID-19 claim yields mixed results

The mayor was partly right and partly wrong when she said Illinois was testing at a rate that put it behind all its neighbors as well as in the "bottom tier" nationwide.

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Fact-Check: Booze ban? No, Illinois hasn’t stopped liquor sales because of COVID-19

Claims that Gov. J.B. Pritzker is halting alcohol sales originated on a prank page that is being shared on social media.

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Fact-check: Postponing primary not in Pritzker’s power

Illinois was one of three states that allowed voting to continue as scheduled on March 17, even after Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed schools, barred restaurants from serving dine-in customers and prohibited mass gatherings.

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Fact-check: Rival’s attack on Lipinski’s immigration stance crosses a line

Rush Darwish’s claim contains some truth in citing Rep. Dan Lipinski’s vote against the DREAM Act, but it gives a misleading impression overall of the congressman’s current stance on key immigration issues.

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Fact-check: Is California’s high top income tax rate really not making rich residents head for the hills?

The research on millionaire migration in California after the state’s top tax rate in 2012 is mixed. For instance, a Stanford report highlighted by the Vote Yes for Fairness campaign found a small number of millionaires did leave after the tax increased. However, it also notes the net migration of millionaires to the state remains positive.

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Fact-check: Lipinski turns to Republican talking point to defend Obamacare vote

The Affordable Care Act did reduce future growth in Medicare spending to help fund Obama’s expansion of health care coverage, but it did not do so by taking existing dollars away.

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Fact-check: Was Schakowsky right to rake Trump over the coals on carbon emissions?

Overall, emissions are indeed up from 2016 levels following a spike in 2018. After that, carbon emissions again began to decline. Experts interviewed say those incremental changes may have nothing to do with Trump policies.