AP FACT CHECK: False claims fly in Alabama U.S. Senate ads
Misleading claims are flying in attack ads for the closely watched Alabama U.S. Senate race between Sen. Doug Jones, a Deep South Democrat, and his Republican opponent Tommy Tuberville, a former college football coach.
Tuberville, a political newcomer, is challenging Jones, who pulled off a close win during a special election three years ago. Republicans hope to win back the once reliably red Senate seat.
In a TV ad released last month, Tuberville falsely accused Jones of supporting extreme policies that would take firearms from gun owners and leave the U.S. border unguarded.
An ad out from Jones, meanwhile, twisted the details of business dealings gone awry for Tuberville, making it sound as though he is a con man — when it was Tuberville who investigators say was conned.
A look at the claims:
TUBERVILLE in ad: “He supports open borders and gun grabbers.”
THE FACTS: No, that’s not true.
Jones, a self-described hunter and gun enthusiast, has called for limiting the ability of some people to get firearms but hasn’t said he supports yanking weapons out of the hands of gun owners. Nor has he called on the government to open its borders to those crossing illegally.
Jones has called for universal background checks for gun purchases, a bump stock ban and raising the age for purchasing semi-automatic weapons to 21.
He used his maiden floor speech in 2018 to talk about gun violence, saying it is not “mutually exclusive” to support gun ownership while favoring tighter controls.
“We must acknowledge the deadly consequences that can follow when a gun is in the wrong hands, but also recognize and respect the freedom to own and enjoy guns by law-abiding citizens as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution,” Jones said at the time.
On the issue of border security, Jones opposed spending money on Trump’s proposed border wall. But he has not pushed to end border protections, as the ad claims. For example, last year Jones joined a group of Republican senators to propose a new program that would hasten the return of migrants at the border who did not express fear of being in their home countries.
Narrator in JONES ad: “Tommy Tuberville helped start a hedge fund that defrauded investors. An Alabama teacher, and parents saving for their children’s education, lost everything.”
THE FACTS: The ad leaves out that Tuberville was also viewed by investigators as a victim in the case.
Tuberville wasn’t prosecuted in the scheme that his business partner, John David Stroud, ran through the company the two launched together, TS Capital.
Stroud in 2013 pleaded guilty to investment fraud for misrepresenting the use of investor funds. The Alabama Security Commission said Stroud took investors’ money and instead used it for personal expenses, unauthorized business and to pay returns to other investors.
The Alabama Securities Commission considered Tuberville one of Stroud’s victims, said Joe Borg, the commission’s director. Stroud was the one doing the trades and books, and the one considered criminally culpable by the regulators, Borg said.
“He got conned by Stroud, too,” Borg said of Tuberville. “From what we could tell (Tuberville) was unwittingly used to bring folks in.”
Borg did not know how much Tuberville lost, but said it was one of the larger sums.
The question of whether Tuberville should have been more clued into Stroud’s wrongdoing was an issue for civil proceedings, Borg said.
Investors sued Stroud and Tuberville in 2012, arguing Tuberville as a partner in the firm violated his fiduciary duty to investors. One couple, a bookkeeper and a retired teacher, together invested more than $800,000.
Tuberville, then a coach at Texas Tech, reached a settlement for an undisclosed sum in 2013.