TARGET 8 fact checks the GOP gubernatorial debate

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COLUMBIA - In a special Town Square edition of Target 8, KOMU 8 News fact-checked the claims from Missouri's four Republican candidates for govenor following last week's debate. 

KOMU 8 News, with the help of our viewers, identified verifiable claims from the debate to fact check. KOMU 8 News researched each statement to determine whether the candidates' claims are True, Mostly True, Mostly False or False. The ratings are defined as followed:

  • True: The statement is accurate and there is nothing significant missing.
  • Mostly True: The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information.
  • Mostly False: The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. 
  • False: The statement is not accurate. 


Greitens confronts Hanaway's gun control record

"The fact is she voted against concealed carry in 2003 and it wasn't just once. She was against conceal and carry in 2002, she was against concealed carry in 1999." -Eric Greitens

Catherine Hanaway, former Missouri Speaker of the House, is once again facing criticism regarding her background on gun control. 

First, Eric Greitens claimed Hanaway voted against concealed carry in 2003 and opposed it in 2002 and 1999. 

The Joplin Globe reports Hanaway initially opposed the concealed-carry measure in 2003, before ultimately supporting the bill and helping to override Democratic Governor Bob Holden's veto. 

As for 1999, Hanaway told the Joplin Globe, "I had a bad vote on conceal and carry because I was voting for the people in my district." She said there was overwhelming opposition in her House district on the conceal carry issue when it was on the statewide ballot. 

Greitens said Hanaway voted against concealed carry in 2003, and was against concealed carry in 2002 and 1999. Hanaway was initially opposed to concealed carry legislation in 2003 before supporting the final measure and although opposed in 1999, she cited her constituents' opinion as the reason. Greitens' statement is accurate, but needs additional clarification. We rate this claim Mostly True. 

Greitens continued on Hanaway, "Her record on protecting your Second Amendment rights was so bad that the NRA gave her a 'D,' a rating lower than Chris Koster."

Greitens claimed the NRA gave Hanaway a "D" rating following her opposition to the 2003 concealed carry measure, a rating lower than Chris Koster, Missouri's Democratic Gubernatorial candidate. 

According to the Joplin Globe, the NRA did in fact give Hanaway a "D" rating in 2003. However, the NRA then gave Hanaway an "A" rating following her support of the same bill and help in overriding the governor's veto. 

The NRA Political Fund gave hanaway an "A" lifetime rating in 2000, and then, in 2004, gave Hanaway a "B" lifetime rating, according to 

Additional context is again important regarding Greitens's claim that Hanaway's Second Amendment record was "so bad that the NRA gave her a 'D.'" However, even after improving her NRA lifetime record, Greitens was correct in stating that Chris Koster who received an "A" rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund, has a higher rating than Hanaway.

We find this claim to be Mostly True. 

Hanaway defends gun rights record

"The last time I ran for office the NRA said I was the best choice." - Catherine Hanaway

The last time Hanaway ran for public office was in 2004, when she ran for Missouri's Secretary of State. She claimed the NRA said she was the best choice for the position.

An NRA article from October 2004 showed the NRA endorsed Hanaway for Secretary of State.

"Catherine Hanaway fought to pass Right-to-Carry for all law-abiding Missourians. Hanaway's strong support for individual gun ownership rights earned her NRA's endorsement," the article said. 

Hanaway claimed the NRA said she was the best choice for Secretary of State in 2004. We find this claim to be True. 

Hanaway claims Greitens's biggest donor accused for "sexually abus[ing] a woman"

"And there's one candidate standing on this stage tonight who talked repeatedly about rooting out corruption and yet his biggest donor, Eric Greitens's biggest donor who gave him a million dollars - an investor from Silicon Valley. This week was alleged to have sexually abused a woman." - Catherine Hanaway

Catherine Hanaway, a former federal prosecutor, criticized Eric Greitens for not returning money from a donor who is alleged to have sexually abused a woman in California. 

The donor, Michael Goguen, is a venture capitalist from California, according to his LinkedIn profile. Goguen's profile shows he worked for Sequoia Capital from 1996 until March 2016. 

Hanaway said Goguen has given $1 million to Greitens's campaign. Missouri Ethics Commission reports confirm that Goguen has donated $1 million to Greitens's campaign since last September.

Court documents from San Mateo County, California, show a woman filed a lawsuit against Goguen claiming he "sexually, physically and emotionally" abused her for more than 13 years. 

The lawsuit stated Goguen allegedly signed a contract to pay Amber Laurel Baptiste $40 million to compensate her for the years of abuse. According to the lawsuit, Goguen paid Baptiste $10 million and then refused to make the remaining payments. 

Goguen's attorney filed a cross complaint against Baptiste accusing her of six charges including extortion, breach of contract and invasion of privacy.

During the debate, Hanaway pointed to the John Kasich campaign, which has already returned the $250,000 it received from Goguen. 

Greitens, in response to Hanaway, said, "Unlike career politicians, I'm not going to convict someone in the court of public opinion."

He added, "Let's see how this civil case works itself out so that we can make a decision based on the facts and the judgments." 

Hanaway stated that Eric Greitens's biggest donor, Michael Goguen, gave Greitens's campaign $1 million dollars and is alleged to have sexually abused a woman. Missouri Ethics Commission reports confirm Goguen contributed $1 million to Greitens's campaign and court documents show he is alleged to have sexually abused a woman.

We find these statements to be True.

Kinder on legalizing marijuana

"I would cite everyone, listen to the example of Colorado, or you can read all about it, but know one thing. The Democratic Governor of Colorado, Mr. Hickenlooper, has said that, that legalization step they took a few years ago was a mistake." - Peter Kinder 

According to the Denver Post, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said voters were "reckless" for legalizing retail sale of marijuana during a Colorado gubernatorial debate in October 2014. 

"I'm not saying it was reckless because I'll get quoted everywhere, but if it was up to me, I wouldn't have done it, right?" he said. "I opposed it from the very beginning. Oh, what the hell, I'll say it was reckless."

Hickenlopper went on to say he believed the voters in Colorado didn't have enough information about the health effects of recreational marijuana before voting for its legalization, the Post said.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder stated that Hickenlooper said the "legalization step they took a few years ago was a mistake." Hickenlooper didn't directly state the legalization step was a mistake, but said he would not have legalized marijuana, calling it "reckless." 

We find Kinder's statement to be True. 

Greitens takes on Missouri's "complicated" tax code

"We have ten different tax brackets, and if you're making $9,000 you're already in the top tax bracket." - Eric Greitens

The Missouri Department of Revenue's website states Missouri has 11 different tax brackets, one more than Greitens claimed. A chart from the department shows the top tax bracket is $9,000 and over, but with one caveat. 

The chart uses Missouri taxable income, which is an indivual's income minus exemptions and deductions. The IRS sets Missouri's standard deductions amounts shown in the chart below. 


Using the chart, a person filing under single status has a standard deduction of $6,300. If a person files under this status and is "making $9,000," like Greitens stated, then the taxable income would be $2,300. This would place that person in the fourth out of 11 tax brackets in Missouri. 

While Greitens's claim about the number of different tax brackets is close to the mark, his claim about being in the top bracket overstates his point. Since the Missouri tax brackets aren't based on gross income, a person "making $9,000" would fall closer to the bottom of the state's tax brackets, not the top. 

We find this statement to be false. 

Austin Campbell, Greitens's Campaign manager, responded to our ruling saying, "Eric said if you're making $9,000, you're already in the top tax bracket. What he should have said is if your taxable income is $9,000, you're already in the top tax bracket. So technically you are correct. But for millions of Missouri tax payers, it's a meaningless distinction and only proves Eric's point that the tax code is too complicated. As Governor, Eric will simplify the tax code and lower the tax burden on working families." 

Brunner claims to be keeping business in Missouri

"This is a neighborhood next to Ferguson, we're about a mile or two down the road...I mean businesses were leaving, we were the last company standing. The company next door went to Mississippi and then on to Mexico..." - John Brunner

John Brunner, former of CEO of Vi-Jon, claimed he has kept his business located "about a mile or two down the road" from Ferguson, while other companies have left town. 

Vi-Jon's headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri, and are almost seven miles from Ferguson, more than the "mile or two" Brunner claimed. The company's website shows there are also two manufacturing facilities in St. Louis and one distribution facility located in St. Charles.

KOMU 8 News reached out to Brunner's campaign and has not yet heard back on what company the candidate was referencing that "went to Mississippi and then on to Mexico." 

KOMU 8 News reached out to local more than six business neighboring both of Vi-Jon's distribution facilities and found they all were still in operation. 

According to a St. Louis Business Journal article, a General Electric Consumer and Industrial Lighting plant across the street from one Vi-Jon distribution facility closed in February 2007. The plant's human resources manager, Eric Leef, told the publication the plant was closing and moving its operations to Monterrey, Mexico.  

Brunner claimed his business was "about a mile or two down the road" from Ferguson. He also claimed the company Vijon was the last company standing and "the company next door went to Mississippi and then on to Mexico." 

Brunner missed the mark on the distance between his business and Ferguson and on his company being the "last company standing." However, his claim that a business next door moved to Mexico was correct. 

We find these claims to be mostly false.

The campaign with the most money is...

“What you found with our campaign is that actually we are outraising all of the other candidates on this stage in Missouri. We are raising more money in Missouri than the other candidates.” - Eric Greitens

Greitens' claim allowed KOMU 8 News to check into fundraising and campaign account balances for all four candidates.

As of the most recent filing with the Missouri Ethics Commission in January, Hanaway had more than $1.5 million on hand, with total receipts for the election at $2.1 million. Between his two committees, Kinder had around $588,000 on hand, with total receipts at nearly $1.3 million. Greitens had $3.4 million on hand, with total receipts at $4.2 million. Brunner had the most on hand at $3.6 million, with total receipts at $4.5 million, including $3 million in loans. 

Kinder hit with ethics questions

“I think Peter, you’re the last person on this stage sir, who should be trafficking in tabloid stories about men hanging out in strip clubs.”

Kinder criticized Greitens' donation money from Goguen. Greitens came back with a rebuttal, citing Kinder’s past and repeated trips to visit a stripper in Sauget.

In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article from 2011, Kinder admitted to the strip club visits and said he visited around 10 times. He also claims he hasn’t visited a strip club since the 1990’s and called his past decisions “a foolish choice.”

KOMU 8 News reached out to Kinder's campaign, which responded, in part:

In an attempt to dodge a sincere question and confuse voters, Mr. Greitens referenced an old story that has already been vetted and voted on. Democrats pulled this attack from events occurring more than 20 years ago. The Lt. Governor was candid about what happened and leveled with Missourians. Opponents then spent more than $3 million dollars personally attacking him on that issue. Voters saw through the attacks and have twice voted for Lt. Governor Kinder's re-election. It's a non-issue and a distraction from the real question of, "why is Eric Greitens refusing to return Goguen's money and choosing a position that contradicts his ethics reform plan?"

On another topic, candidates brought up questions over travel charges. Kinder responded during the debate:

“When the Post-Dispatch wrote 2,300 words on some hotel invoices that democratic auditors had found no problem with, I went the extra mile when there was about $3,000 of disputed expenses that might be called into question. I said, I’m going to go back several years and write a personal check-not a campaign check like Jay Nixon did- right before he ran for governor. I wrote the largest personal check I’ve ever written for $53,000 to remove any hint of a taint from my name and I operated under that burden.”

Both Kinder and Gov. Jay Nixon have been criticized for the amount of travel expenses they've had. Kinder claimed the auditors had no problem with the amount he had spent and then voluntarily wrote a check to pay the state back for his hotel expenses. 

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article reports he planned to pay the state back in 2011. KOMU 8 News also requested documents to confirm the payment was received. A state auditor's report from June 2011 confirms the Office of Administration received Kinder's check for $52,320.  

We find both of these statements to be true.