“Fact-checkers wrote that Cartwright wants to defund the police.”
Republican candidate for Congress Jim Bognet, in a campaign ad
A new campaign ad attacking U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Democrat who represents Northeastern Pennsylvania, mentions one of our fact-checks and says PolitiFact concluded that Cartwright wants to cut funding for law enforcement.
The ad was paid for by the campaign of Cartwright’s Republican opponent, Jim Bognet, a consultant and former Trump administration official from Hazleton. The race in the 8th Congressional District is one of Pennsylvania’s most hotly contested.
“Fact-checkers wrote that Cartwright wants to defund the police,” the ad’s narrator says as the PolitiFact logo flashes across the screen, along with text from an article we published on July 9 that concludes just the opposite.
Here’s what we actually wrote:
“No, Pennsylvania Congressman Matt Cartwright did not call for defunding the police,” a policy push springing from the Black Lives Matter movement that President Donald Trump and his allies have seized on as an example of Democratic overreach.
So why all the confusion?
Earlier this summer, Cartwright told a participant in a virtual listening session that officials in places like Wilkes-Barre, and in Congress, have the power to decide how public funds are spent on police, as they do for any other agency.
Bognet’s campaign distorted those remarks and sent out a news release in June claiming that Cartwright wants to cut funding for public safety.
That was the first time he made this inaccurate claim, and when we fact-checked it in July, we rated it False.
“There have been voices calling for defunding and disbanding police forces. I personally do not agree with that,” Cartwright said during the listening session, advocating instead for new investment in officer training and an expansion of community policing.
An audio clip of the exchange is available on Cartwright’s Facebook page.
Asked why the Bognet campaign misrepresented our fact-check, spokesperson Ian Prior deflected, saying “absolutely no one cares anymore about getting ‘fact-checked’” by publications like The Inquirer or PolitiFact.
He offered no evidence to back up the claim in the ad that’s at the center of this check, nor did he address why the campaign included our initial check in its ad if “absolutely no one cares.”
A Bognet campaign ad claims, “Fact-checkers wrote that Cartwright wants to defund the police.” We actually wrote the opposite. The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. We rate it Pants on Fire!
Bognet campaign ad, “What happened to Matt Cartwright?” accessed Sept. 9, 2020
The Philadelphia Inquirer, “No, Pa. Congressman Matt Cartwright did not call for defunding the police,” July 9, 2020
Bognet for Congress website, “Why I’m running,” accessed July 8, 2020
Politics PA, “Pennsylvania Congressional Vulnerability: April 2020 Ratings,” April 15, 2020
Congressman Matt Cartwright Facebook page, “Opposition to Defunding or Disbanding Police,” June 12, 2020
Bognet for Congress Press Release, “Cartwright Proposes To Defund The Wilkes-Barre Police,” June 12, 2020
Email interview, Bognet Campaign Spokesman Ian Prior, Sept. 9, 2020
PolitiFact is a nonpartisan, fact-checking website operated by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies.