PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

PolitiFact Florida Checks Out David Jolly

David Jolly
David Jolly

On Monday, Pinellas Congressman David Jollyannounced he's running for the U.S. Senate, vying to succeed Marco Rubio. So that means he's now in the sights of the fact-checkers at PolitiFact Florida. WUSF's Steve Newborn speaks with PolitiFact's Amy Hollyfield about some of Jolly's claims to be a true conservative.


David Jolly
Reason to be Jolly?

Two years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to know who David Jolly was, unless you were really plugged into political circles. He was the general counsel for C.W. Bill Young, the dean of the House of Representatives. But Jolly rocketed into the political psyche when he won a special election against all odds after Young died in office. In what some consider a shocker, he then easily defeated Alex Sink, the former state Chief Financial Officer, in the general election.

Now, barely a year later, he's aiming for the U.S. Senate, vying to replace Marco Rubio.

Now, he's run as a conservative, but says he's governed as a moderate. 

Like a lot of Republicans trying to shore up their base, Jolly took a tack to the right in the 2014 primaries. But let's look at the record - first on statements he made about Social Security.

Jolly said several times on the campaign trail that the U.S. Supreme Court found that "Social Security is not guaranteed." He often pegged the statement to how it was up to "elected officials" to protect their constituents’ benefits.  

Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:

Jolly said several times on the campaign trail that the U.S. Supreme Court found that "Social Security is not guaranteed." He often pegged the statement to how it was up to elected officials to protect their constituents’ benefits.

The 1960 case Jolly cited, Flemming vs. Nestor, did indeed say that citizens don’t have a right to Social Security benefits, no matter how long they paid into the system. Congress can change the rules how they see fit, as long as they follow due process. We rated his statement True.

Onn illegal immigration, Jolly spoke out on an executive action by President Barack Obama to delay deportation for some undocumented immigrants, saying that a federal judge had called the action "unconstitutional."

Here's the ruling:

A reasonable person might have thought Jolly meant a judge ruled that the action violated the Constitution, but that isn’t accurate. A federal judge in Texas said the government was acting outside its authority by issuing the order. But the actual ruling said the state of Texas had a chance to win a case based on a procedural misstep, not the action’s constitutionality.

Another federal judge in Pennsylvania really did call the action unconstitutional, but that was an opinion in a ruling on a deportation case in which the action didn’t apply. Because the claim needed clarification, we rated Jolly’s statement Mostly True.

Finally, let's talk about his record as a lobbyist.

During last year's campaign,  there was talk that Jolly lobbied on behalf of oil-drilling interests. Jolly said "I have never lobbied for offshore oil drilling."

The ruling:

A lobbyist disclosure statement contradicted him, and Jolly said later that he did attend a client meeting in which the legislation was discussed even though he didn’t actively lobby for it. When we looked into the rules of lobbying, it seems that the situation as he describes it -- being at a meeting but not actively pushing the measure with elected officials -- technically counts as being part of a communication about the proposal.

We rated Jolly’s statement Mostly False.

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7. To see more, visit WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7.

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.