Would I pile on poor Katherine Harris now that her entire senior campaign staff is quitting on her (again) and she’s about to go under the knife?
On the campaign trail and in her literature, U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris boasts that, as a freshman member of Congress, she passed the American Dream Downpayment Act, “enabling 4.5 million low-income workers to own their first home while growing the U.S. economy by $256 billion.”
Federal reports indicate Harris’ claims are grossly exaggerated.
A Government Accountability Office report issued June 30 found that, through 2005, only $98.5 million of the $211 million Congress appropriated had been used by local governments to help more than 13,000 low-income families buy new homes — far below her claim of 4.5 million.
Harris also has taken projections of the Bush administration’s goals for expanding minority homeownership and used them as the basis of her claims for the economic impact of the American Dream Downpayment Act.
Harris’ congressional spokesman, Gerry Fritz, conceded Wednesday that the claims in her campaign literature were inaccurate.
“Someone in the campaign made an error,” he said, acknowledging that Harris’ figures came from a 2002 Department of Housing and Urban Development report that predicted President Bush’s goal of expanding minority homeownership by 5.5 million families “will stimulate an additional $256 billion in benefits to the housing sector of the U.S. economy.”
Last week, addressing the Fort Lauderdale Young Republicans, Harris said: “I sponsored a bill called the American Dream Downpayment Act. It lets low-income folks buy their first home. The president said 4.5 million folks will be able to own their own home from this…. It’s a $256 billion economic impact to our economy.”
Fritz said he was not sure how the mistake became part of Harris’ stock speech.
Peter Monroe, one of three Republicans facing Harris in the Sept. 5 primary, has challenged her “significant, material misrepresentations in her brochures and when she talks about her record.”
It is difficult to campaign “when people are not being entirely truthful,” Monroe said. “There seems to be a fairly consistent pattern of false information being given to the voters.”
The recently released GAO report also countered Harris’ claims about the effect of the act. It concluded that, because of inadequate data collection, the “accomplishments attributable to the (act) are not known.”
The measure “has not had a significant impact on the homeownership rates of selected participating jurisdictions due to modest funding levels and the newness of the program,” the GAO report said.