Guns, Trump and power generation take a ride on the Truth-O-Meter

How does PolitiFact Georgia’s Truth-O-Meter work?

Our goal is to help you find the truth in American politics. Reporters from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution fact-check statements by local, state and national political leaders, including lobbyists and interest groups. We then rate them on the AJC Truth-O-Meter.

To fact-check a claim, reporters first contact the speaker to verify the statement. Next, the research begins. Reporters consult a variety of sources, including industry and academic experts. This research can take hours or a few days or even longer, depending on the claim. Reporters then compile the research into story form and include a recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling.

The fact check then moves on to a panel of veteran editors who debate the statement and the reporter’s recommended Truth-O-Meter ruling. The panel votes on a final ruling; majority prevails.

Guns, taxes and power generation were among the topics hitting the Truth-O-Meter last week.

We looked at Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s claim that he can cut taxes without increasing the deficit.

We also checked out Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s claim that nearly 40 percent of all guns sold in America are sold by private unlicensed sellers online or through gun shows. And we looked at a Public Service commissioner’s claim that Georgia has no major rivers to produce big hydropower.

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Tim Echols on Monday, October 26th, 2015 in an opinion piece in a trade magazine

“Our state has no major rivers to produce big hydropower.”

A recent claim made by one member of the Georgia Public Service

Commission, in touting the state’s commitment to nuclear power, caught our


“Our state has no major rivers to produce big hydro power, ” Commissioner Tim

G. Echols wrote in Power Engineering, a magazine that covers the power

generation industry. “What we do have is nuclear power, and it enjoys widespread


No major rivers to produce “big” hydro? PolitiFact Georgia decided to check

We reached out to Echols, who cited both state and federal reports to back up

his claim.

The 2014 Georgia Energy Report by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority said that hydroelectric generated 2 percent of power generation and 5.5 percent of capacity in 2012, Echols said. And a 1998 report for the U.S. Department of Energy evaluated “undeveloped hydropower potential” and found Georgia’s undeveloped hydropower potential was between about 613 megawatts and 1,137 megawatts of power.

As a percentage of power generation, hydropower is destined to remain a

relatively small part of that mix given the limitations of our rivers compared

to massive waterways in places such as the Pacific Northwest.

There is some room for growth in hydroelectric. But other energy sources will

always dominate.

We rate Echols’ statement Mostly True.

Martin O’Malley on Nov. 6 in the First in the South Democratic presidential forum

“When President Obama was running for re-election … Senator Sanders was trying to find someone to primary him.”

Bernie Sanders didn’t have Barack Obama’s back in 2012, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley suggested at the First in the South Democratic Presidential forum.

“When President Obama was running for re-election, I was glad to step up and work very hard for him, while Sen. Sanders was trying to find someone to primary him,” O’Malley said on Nov. 6, adding that he’s “a lifelong Democrat” unlike Sanders, a former independent, and Hillary Clinton, a former Republican.

That’s “categorically false,” Sanders said on ABC’s This Week two days later: “Somebody asked me years ago, do you think there should be a primary opponent to Barack Obama? And I don’t know exactly the words that I — I’m not sure — what’s wrong with a primary situation?”

So who’s right?

The Sanders campaign didn’t get back to us, but O’Malley’s spokesperson sent us several examples of Sanders saying a primary challenge wouldn’t be a bad idea.

We also searched Google, Nexis and CQ for comments Sanders made on the topic of a primary challenge.

As a sitting senator, Sanders’ comments at a minimum were provocative: He didn’t think it was a bad idea for a candidate to run against Obama in the primary. He spoke positively of such a scenario several times. When Sanders endorsed Obama, Sanders said it was because Obama was preferable to Romney. That doesn’t mean Sanders was actively searching for a candidate to actually run against Obama.

We rated O’Malley’s claim Half True.

Donald Trump on Wednesday, October 28th, 2015 in the third GOP primary debate

Says his plan would cut taxes without increasing the deficit.

A week after the third GOP debate, Donald Trump was still salty at CNBC’s John Harwood, the moderator who asked him whether his 2016 bid was a “comic book version” of a presidential campaign.

In asking the question, Harwood brought up the billionaire’s proposal to cut taxes without adding to the deficit —- a goal, Harwood said, that’s nigh impossible. Trump agreed with the characterization but dodged the plausibility question.

For the record, Larry Kudlow, a conservative economist and former CNBC anchor, said in September that he “really likes Trump’s plan.” During the debate, Kudlow told Breitbart NEED TO CITE THIS AS A NEWS SOURCE, NOT PERSON that he specifically loves Trump’s proposal for a 15 percent corporate tax rate but “can’t speak for the whole plan.”

But what about the whole plan? Will it be, as Trump wrote in a Wall Street Journal column, “revenue neutral”?

Based on analyses conducted by two tax groups, Trump’s plan would lead to a revenue loss of $10 trillion to $12 trillion over 10 years.

We rated Trump’s claim False.

Terry McAuliffe on Thursday, October 15th, 2015 in an executive order

“It has been estimated that nearly 40 percent of all guns sold in America are sold by private, unlicensed sellers either online or through gun shows.”

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently issued an executive order that banned firearms from most state buildings and offered his rationale for a gun control measure he plans to present to the state’s General Assembly this winter.

McAuliffe, a Democrat, is calling for a law that would require all prospective gun buyers in Virginia to undergo a background check to determine whether the purchaser has a disqualifying criminal record or mental health history.

“It has been estimated that nearly 40 percent of all guns sold in America are sold by private, unlicensed sellers either online or through guns shows,” McAuliffe stated in his Oct. 15 executive order.

The source of the 40 percent figure is a 1997 study by the National Institute of Justice that looked at gun owners’ responses to a 1994 national survey asking how they got their weapons. The study found that 30 percent to 40 percent of all gun transactions were made through an “off-the-books” transfer in which a background check wasn’t required.

PolitiFact has noted previously that the research is old and limited.

When the results were adjusted to guns sold - the term McAuliffe uses - only 14 percent to 22 percent of the firearms were sold without background checks.

No current national study has been published.

We rated his statement Mostly False.