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FACT CHECK: Bachmann bomblets raising eyebrows

By Jim Drinkard

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, June 28 2011 1:05 a.m. MDT

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., makes her formal announcement to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Monday, June 27, 2011, in Waterloo, Iowa. Bachmann, who was born in Waterloo, will continue her announcement tour this week with stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Charlie Riedel, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Michele Bachmann's claim that she has "never gotten a penny" from a family farm that's been subsidized by the government is at odds with her financial disclosure statements. They show tens of thousands in personal income from the operation.

And, on a less substantive note, she flubbed her hometown history when declaring "John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa," and "that's the kind of spirit that I have, too," in running for president.

The actor was born nearly 150 miles away. It was the serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr. who lived, for a time, in Waterloo.

Those were among the latest examples of how the Minnesota congresswoman has become one to watch — for inaccuracies as well as rising support — in the Republican presidential race.

Bachmann's wildly off-base assertion last month that a NATO airstrike might have killed as many as 30,000 Libyan civilians, her misrepresentations of the health care law, misfires on other aspects of President Barack Obama's record and historical inaccuracies have saddled her with a reputation for uttering populist jibes that don't hold up. On Tuesday, she erred in describing John Quincy Adams as a Founding Father.

She announced her candidacy Monday in Iowa with a speech typical for someone joining the campaign. It laid out the broad themes of her candidacy and mostly avoided the Bachmann bomblets that have grabbed attention — and often fizzled under scrutiny — in the long lead-up.

The more the political season heats up, the more that exaggerations and sound-bite oversimplifications emanate from the Republicans going after Obama — and from the Democrats playing defense. Still, Bachmann's record on this score is distinct.

Examining 24 of her statements, Politifact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking service of the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, found just one to be fully true and 17 to be false (seven of them "pants on fire" false). No other Republican candidate whose statements have been vigorously vetted matched that record of inaccuracy.

A look at some of her recent statements and how they compare with the facts:

BACHMANN: "The farm is my father-in-law's farm. It's not my husband and my farm. It's my father-in-law's farm. And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm." — On "Fox News Sunday."

THE FACTS: In personal financial disclosure reports required annually from members of Congress, Bachmann reported that she holds an interest in a family farm in Independence, Wis., with her share worth between $100,000 and $250,000.

The farm, which was owned by her father-in-law, produced income for Bachmann of at least $32,500 and as much as $105,000 from 2006 through 2009, according to the reports she filed for that period. The farm also received federal crop and disaster subsidies, according to a database maintained by the Environmental Working Group. From 1995 through 2010, the farm got $259,332 in federal payments.

When asked about the subsidies and her income from the farm late last year, a spokesman for Bachmann said only that she wasn't involved in decisions about the running of the farm.

Bachmann told The Associated Press on Monday that her husband became a trustee of the farm because his father had dementia before he died two years ago, and "oversees the legal entity."

"Everything we do with those forms is in an abundance of caution," she said, insisting she and her husband receive no farm income despite the forms reporting it.

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