The Herald-Leader will fact-check statements made by candidates and their surrogates in the campaigns for Lexington mayor, the 6th Congressional District and U.S. Senate.
The statement: "Barr actually started a PAC to support a radical agenda that included eliminating Social Security and Medicare."
U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, attacking his Republican challenger, Andy Barr, in a commercial running this week on Lexington television stations.
The ruling: Mostly false.
The facts: In 2002, Barr and a friend, David Moss, started a political action committee called the Kentucky Capitalism and Freedom Committee. They registered it with the state government to support local and state political candidates who were "committed to the principles of individual freedom, limited government and competitive capitalism," according to the registration. They cited as inspiration the free-market teachings of Nobel Laureate economist Milton Friedman.
The PAC had nothing to do with Social Security and Medicare, which are federal programs that cannot be affected by local and state politicians. In fact, it never did much of anything. It spent $550 — mostly in donations to the 2003 gubernatorial campaign of Republican Ernie Fletcher — and closed in 2005.
"It was a good idea, but it never took off. We both got too busy," Moss, vice president of the Kentucky Coal Association, said Monday.
The Chandler campaign defended the ad by noting that Friedman, who died in 2006, was a critic of Social Security, Medicare and other government social- welfare spending. Friedman taught that people should be responsible for their own welfare in a free society.
The Chandler campaign said Barr hoped to promote politicians agreeing with Friedman, and therefore, he supported an agenda that included the elimination of Social Security and Medicare. Even if the candidates Barr helped were in local or state politics, some could be the next generation of congressional candidates, who then would be in a position to eliminate federal programs, the Chandler campaign said.
However, the Barr campaign said the PAC was interested solely in Kentucky politics, as its registration stated. On the campaign trail, Barr says he would oppose any attempt to privatize Social Security, and while he says funding for Medicare is currently unsustainable, he does not call for its elimination.
John Cheves, firstname.lastname@example.org