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Republican lawmakers and pundits at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference berated President Joe Biden and his administration officials as weak and biased against conservatives.
The conference, which has been held annually since the 1970s, has been a magnet for major figures in the conservative movement, and such announced or possible presidential candidates as former President Donald Trump, former South Carolina governor and Trump cabinet member Nikki Haley, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were scheduled to speak this year.
But other possible candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence were not expected.
Several of this year’s discussions focused on Biden’s policies, the dangers of fentanyl, and gender identity.
Here are some of their claims, fact-checked and with context.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla.: The Justice Department has been "calling parents that are concerned about what their kids are being taught, they are labeling them terrorists."
This is False.
In a 2021 memo, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI to address criminal threats against school officials. But his memo didn’t use the word "terrorist" and noted that "spirited debate" is protected by the Constitution.
The FBI created an EDUOFFICIALS "threat tag" to track threats of violence against school officials, not to flag parents for questioning curriculum.
A 2021 bulletin from the National Terrorism Advisory System about the level of threat environment in the U.S. fueled claims that people who oppose coronavirus safety restrictions were being labeled domestic terrorists, but that is not so.
U.S. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn.: "You pick up a dollar that’s got fentanyl on it and you’re dead."
PolitiFact rated a similar claim False. Medical experts say you cannot overdose by simply touching an item with fentanyl on it.
On a border security panel, Green spoke about building a case to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, homing in on fentanyl overdoses.
Some law enforcement agencies have warned people against picking up suspicious-looking money they find on the ground because it could be covered in fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid.
Although powdered fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, the amount that enters a person’s system would not be enough to make that person feel the fentanyl’s effects, let alone spark an overdose, the American College of Medical Toxicology and the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology said in a joint statement in 2017.
The symptoms reported by people who encountered fentanyl-laced money — dizziness, fainting, chest pains, blurred vision and anxiety — are also inconsistent with symptoms from opioid overdoses, which include slowed breathing, gradual loss of consciousness and constricting pupils.
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.: A law Biden signed would "double the size of the IRS" so it can "harass every American."
We’ve rated a similar claim Mostly False.
The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by Biden includes $80 billion in new funding for the IRS. However, the agency is not doubling in size, and the funding’s intent was targeting corporations and people with high incomes, not "every American."
The agency currently has about 80,000 employees, and the majority of these new employees are intended to backfill for retirements of current employees, which will play out over the next decade. The agency expects to lose about 50,000 employees to retirement over the next five to six years.
The hires will include positions across the agency, including information technology and taxpayer services.
Some of the new hires will be in enforcement, but the agency does not intend to use the new hires to "harass every American."
"I direct that any additional resources — including any new personnel or auditors that are hired — shall not be used to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels," Yellen wrote.
Yellen said enforcement will focus on corporations and people with high net worth. Before the additional funding, she said, the agency could audit only about 7,500 out of 4 million such returns each year.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "Pervasive regulation, taxes, government controls — these are the things that are driving inflation and make your eggs so expensive today."
Egg prices have jumped dramatically over the past year, but regulation and taxes are not the primary reasons why, experts say.
The most important factor has been avian influenza, or bird flu. By the end of December 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 43 million egg-laying hens had died or been culled since the outbreak began in February 2022. That’s about one in every 10 birds in U.S. flocks, and facilities need to be sanitized after the flu is detected, slowing the flocks’ comeback.
Another contributing factor to the high prices has been Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — both countries are major world suppliers of wheat and grains, which are used to feed chickens, The New York Times reported.
Regulation could potentially affect prices, such as in California, which has a law that took effect in 2022 requiring hens to be kept cage-free. However, even if this had a measurable impact, California ranks only 10th in the nation in egg production, with 4.3% of national output, so the state law is not the driving factor nationally.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.: "The cartels have operational control of the United States-Mexico border."
That’s an exaggeration and disregards immigration authorities’ enforcement actions, experts said.
Operational control is a legal term defined by Congress in 2006. Under the law, the government must prevent all illegal entries into the U.S., including people and drugs. By that definition, no administration has ever achieved operational control of the border.
But neither have cartels.
"Criminal organizations in Mexico have pervasive control over crossing in Mexico," said David Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. But "it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of being able to control all entries."
Border Patrol agents at the southern border have expelled immigrants at least 2.1 million times under the Biden administration. Agents have seized nearly 170,000 pounds of drugs at the border in fiscal year 2023, which began in October.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.: Says Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he wants America’s "sons and daughters to go die in Ukraine."
This is False. Zelenskyy did not say that.
During a Feb. 24 press conference, he predicted that if Ukraine loses the war, Russia will then invade a country that’s a North Atlantic Treaty Organization member, forcing the U.S. to defend its allies. If that happens, Zelenskyy said, Americans would be required to "send their sons and daughters" to war because of NATO’s mutual defense treaty.
He did not mention U.S. troops going to Ukraine.
Ukraine borders four NATO member countries, but it is not part of the military alliance.
Abby Johnson, CPAC guest speaker: Abortion pills cause women to abort "fully formed babies" at "12, 14, 16 weeks along" in their pregnancies.
This gives a misleading impression about both fetal development and how the medication is approved for use.
A fetus is considered fully developed and has finished most of its major growth at around 31 weeks into a 40-week pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. "Fully formed" is not a medical term, said Dr. Daniel Grossman, an obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences professor at the University of California, San Francisco. "The organs and limbs are formed by about 12 weeks from (the) last menstrual period, but they are not fully functional and continue to develop throughout pregnancy."
For reference, a human fetus at 12 weeks of pregnancy is roughly 2.1 inches long.
Abortion induced by medication involves a two-drug combination that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use up to 10 weeks of pregnancy. Some reproductive health experts say it also can be safely used "off-label" up to 11 weeks, sometimes 12 weeks. But the medication is not approved for use in the 12th, 14th or 16th week of pregnancy.
Studies have found that 95% to 98% of patients who take the medicines as prescribed will end their pregnancies without harm to themselves.
PolitiFact staff writers Amy Sherman, Madison Czopek, Louis Jacobson, Maria Ramirez Uribe and Samantha Putterman contributed to this report.
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