Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s claim Sunday that she is the only candidate from either party being targeted by Wall Street attack ads is patently false and "absurd," according to a fact-check conducted by PolitiFact.
Clinton told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that she is "the only candidate in the Democratic primary, or actually on either side, who Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are actually running ads against," and PolitiFact proceeded to check the veracity of her statement.
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The fact-checking group gave Clinton a "Pants on Fire!" rating for her claim, which, according to PolitiFact’s website, is its lowest rating reserved for "the most ridiculous falsehoods."
Clinton‘s statement came after Todd asked her why she has not yet released the transcripts of speeches she made in recent years to Wall Street financial firms for large sums of money, including $675,000 for three speeches to Goldman Sachs in 2013, while her primary opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt), says he has already released his transcripts because he never gave paid speeches.
"[The Sanders campaign] tries to implies this, is undermining, or again, misrepresenting my record when it comes to being tough on Wall Street," Clinton responded. "I have a record, Chuck. It is out there in the public. And I’m the only candidate in the Democratic primary, or actually on either side, who Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers are actually running ads against."
Clinton touted her record going after the financial industry and said she is proud of her approach in addressing the economy and targeting Wall Street.
PolitiFact acknowledged that the financial sector has spent money against Clinton but added it is flatly wrong to say she is the only candidate to be targeted.
PolitiFact consulted with Robert Maguire of the Center for Responsive Politics and Nancy Watzman of the Political TV Ad Archive, whose data shows that every candidate still in the presidential race has been targeted to some extent by Wall Street donations.
The financial industry has poured most of its money into attacking Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, according to the donation totals.
Three conservative groups – American Crossroads, America Rising, and Future45 – are responsible for most of the anti-Clinton ads, but only half to two-thirds of each organization’s funding comes from Wall Street. Each one has also attacked Bernie Sanders through advertising.
"The trouble with her claim is Wall Street financiers and hedge fund managers aren’t a monolithic group," PolitiFact said. "Some have even expressed their support for Clinton and Sanders, and their donations are dispersed among Republican and Democratic groups."
The report points out that a Clinton-affiliated super PAC, Priorities USA Action, has taken a third of its money from the financial industry.
Interestingly, while Priorities USA has spent more than $61,000 targeting Trump, conservative groups have spent more than $28 million going after the real estate mogul.
One reason Sanders is not targeted much by the financial industry is because he is taken less seriously and is not expected to win the nomination, according to John G. Geer, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University.
"Why spend money [on Sanders] that will have little return on the investment?" Geer asked.
PolitiFact noted that after releasing its findings, both Democratic campaigns reached out to them with new information, but that did nothing to change the website’s conclusion.
"The bottom line: Wall Street-funded groups have certainly gone after Clinton hard, but they’ve also slammed Sanders and every Republican candidate in the race," PolitiFact said.