Fact-checking the Third District Congressional Candidates
One could argue the race between Third District congressional candidate Morgan Harper and incumbent Joyce Beatty is one of the most contentious ahead of the March 17 primary election. And in the two times they have debated in person, both have made numerous claims about the other. What follows is a breakdown of the most provoking or disputed claims, from campaign finance to voting records and more. (See recaps of the first debate and voter forum for more context.)
Beatty: Harper has not voted for 10 years.
This is unverifiable. Ohio Secretary of State Voter records indicate Harper voted in a 2004 general election, a May 2019 primary and the November 2019 general election. However, Harper has lived in other states, attending universities in Massachusetts, New Jersey and California. These states have stricter protections on voting records. According to Harper, she has in fact voted elsewhere.
Harper: Rep. Beatty “has not introduced legislation that is going to make sure that we end these incidents of violence.”
It is true that Rep. Beatty has not introduced her own legislation in an effort to end police violence. However, she has co-sponsored the following bills: the TIP Act of 2014, which directs the Attorney General to conduct a study on the cost of body cameras; the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act of 2015; the Police Training and Independent Review Act of 2019, which would require law enforcement officers to be trained on diversity and racial sensitivity and require an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate and prosecute incidents of deadly force and brutality; and the Police Accountability Act of 2020. Unfortunately, none have made it past introduction.
Harper: Rep. Beatty “was not there for” the Green family.
This is true. Adrienne Hood, the mother of Henry Green, says that she has only had genuine contact with one of the Third District congressional candidates: Morgan Harper. “She reached out to myself and other families to ask us what we wanted, she didn’t assume,” she told CU. “Congresswoman Beatty and myself spoke on the same platform and she was in and out from what I remember. The time she raised my son’s name up on the Congressional floor, once she got pressure she peddled back.”
Beatty: Responding to Harper, Beatty said she has never campaigned with Rep. Stivers and that she only passed legislation with him.
This is true. Rep. Beatty and Rep. Stivers went on a “Civility Tour” across their districts in 2018, after announcing their newly launched Civility and Respect Caucus. The two, harkening to their own friendship and disagreements, talked about instilling more civility at the congressional level and the importance of civility with schools and civic organizations.
Legislation the two have worked on together include two veteran-focused bills, The HOMeS Act and The Homeless Veterans Legal Services Act as well as The Senior Care Act.
Harper: Beatty co-sponsored a bill that Trump signed into law making it legal to charge Black people higher interest rates on car loans.
This is exaggerated.
Beatty: The bill was signed by most of the Democratic African Americans in Congress. “The second time around,” Congress corrected the data on the bill and voted against it.
The first claim is false. Of the 45 House members of the Congressional Black Caucus during this period, only eight members, including Beatty, voted for HR 1737, created to nullify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s anti-discrimination guidances for auto lenders.
The second claim is true. Republican lawmakers would go on to refer to HR 1737, in which a total 88 Democrats voted in favor, as a sign of bipartisan support for the curbing of CFPB’s guidance on the issue. However, the bill was not acted upon by the Senate before the end of the 114th Congress. Beatty voted against a similar resolution that would eventually be signed into law in 2018, S.J.Res.57. Just one member of the CBC voted in favor.
Harper: Rep. Beatty had accepted over $200,000 from the healthcare industry and corporations such as Bob Evans who have been accused of suppressing employee wages.
This is true. An examination of Rep. Beatty’s Federal Elections Commission campaign donation records show an estimated $246,375 in campaign donations from the healthcare industry from the years 2013 to 2019. Included in this total are donations from leadership at healthcare companies and institutions such as Centene, PACs representing associations such as the American Hospital Association, and PACs representing companies such as United Health, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and nearly two dozen more.
A May 2019 article from The Athens News discussed a class-action lawsuit filed by Bob Evans workers in Athens and Parkersburg, West Virginia for suppressed wages. Though not the corporation itself, Bob Evans’ CEO Steven Davis gave just under $5,000 in donations over this period. PACs representing McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Home Depot have donated, all of which have had similar lawsuits filed against them.
Beatty: Harper had taken money from (1) the people that run corporations, (2) “the people who are bank presidents of Trump’s bank,” (3) the presidents and CEOs that represent big pharma and (4) more people from outside of the state than within.
The first claim is true, but misleading. Beatty generally insinuates Harper is being influenced through her own donations. There are some corporate executives and directors among Harper’s donors, though not in amounts that would appear as an attempt to influence Harper’s campaign. Harper also has received support from Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee that requires its candidates to pledge not to take any corporate PAC or corporate lobbyist money.
The second claim is false. Deutsche Bank and Capital One are the two banks at the center of the fight to obtain President Trump’s financial records, led by presidents Karl von Rohr and Richard Fairbank. Neither appear in campaign finance records submitted to the FEC by the Morgan Harper for Congress campaign, nor does high-ranking leadership from any other bank.
The third claim is false. None of the presidents or CEOs of the top American pharmaceutical companies with revenue greater than $10 billion, the companies generally referred to as “big pharma,” were listed as campaign donors to the Morgan Harper for Congress campaign.
The fourth claim is true in the context of FEC records. As of the January 31 year-end report submitted to the FEC by Morgan Harper for Congress, just over 16% of reported donors — reported if aggregated donations from an individual are over $200 — were from Ohio. Of the 16%, 45% were from the Third District — or 7% of total voters.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include context on FEC reporting requirements.
Ohio’s primary election takes place on Tuesday, March 17. Find more information on voting and candidates here.