FACT CHECK: 3 Claims From The 9th Democratic Primary Debate

Check Your Fact Staff | Contributor

The ninth Democratic presidential primary debate took place Wednesday night in Las Vegas, where six candidates covered topics ranging from “stop-and-frisk” to net worths to homelessness. It was the last primary debate before the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22.

Here are three checks on their claims.

Claim 1: “He had stop and frisk, throwing close to 5 million young black men up against a wall,” said former Vice President Joe Biden.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came under fire from several other candidates last night for stop-and-frisk, a controversial policy that allowed police officers to stop any person briefly and search them for weapons or prohibited items. The New York Police Department policy, the Wall Street Journal reported, disproportionately affected the black and Latino communities.

A police data analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that roughly 5.08 million stops occurred during Bloomberg’s time as mayor (2002 to 2013). Slightly more than half of those individuals – approximately 2.6 million – were black, according to the analysis, but the data doesn’t break down by gender or age.

Michael Gwin, a Biden spokesman, told CNN that the former vice president meant the total number of stops, though he failed to make that distinction during the debate.

Bloomberg has since apologized for his role in the controversial policy, despite defending it as late as October 2019, The New York Times reported.

Claim 2: “And as the, I think, lone person on this stage who’s not a millionaire, let alone a billionaire, I believe that part of what needs to change is for the voices of the communities that haven’t felt heard on Wall Street or in Washington to actually be brought to Capitol Hill,” said former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

An August 2019 analysis by Forbes found that every candidate in the debate – apart from Buttigieg – does appear to be a millionaire or billionaire. Buttigieg has an estimated net worth of $100,000, according to that report.

Forbes estimates that Biden and his wife, Jill, are worth about $9 million. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar have estimated net worths of $12 million, $2.5 million and $2 million, respectively.

The only billionaire on the debate stage last night was Bloomberg, whom Forbes puts at a net worth of approximately $65.2 billion.

Claim 3: “That should not be the case when we got a half a million people sleeping out on the street,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Vermont senator has repeated this figure in previous debates, likely referencing the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress.

HUD’s 2019 report found that roughly 568,000 people experienced homelessness on a single night in 2019. Of those individuals, approximately 210,200, or 37 percent, were unsheltered. The other approximately 357,800 individuals, or 63 percent, stayed in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, according to the report.

The yearly HUD reports show homelessness has trended downward nationally over the past decade. In 2009, HUD estimated there were 643,067 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people on a single night in January of that year.

Brad Sylvester, Trevor Schakohl and Elias Atienza contributed to this report.

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