FACT CHECK: Here Are Four Claims From The Oct. 14 Georgia Senate Debate
Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Georgia senatorial candidate Herschel Walker met in Savannah Oct. 14 for their one and only debate before the elections. The two candidates clashed over policy issues and their personal lives.
Here are fact-checks on four of their most notable claims:
Claim 1: “If Warnock actually stood up to [President Joe] Biden, he wouldn’t vote with him 96 percent of the time,” Walker said.
Warnock has voted with Biden 96 percent of the time during the 117th Congress, according to September 2022 data from FiveThirtyEight. Warnock has supported Biden’s position on a host of issues, including expanding firearm regulations, extending government funding, strengthening rules against wage discrimination, and more, according to the same data.
The only time Warnock did not vote with the president was the disapproval on sale of arms to Saudi Arabia and imposing sanctions on Russia in January over a pipeline.
Despite his record, Warnock distanced himself from the sitting president during a campaign event in Georgia, according to a July 2022 article from The Associated Press. Instead, Warnock opted to use a bipartisan strategy, saying he could “work with anybody to get something good done for the people of Georgia,” the outlet reported.
Walker previously took aim at Warnock’s voting record in a campaign ad in August 2022, Axios reported.
Claim 2: “One thing I have not done is ever pretend to be a police officer,” Warnock said.
Warnock referenced claims Walker made about being a member of law enforcement. The former NFL running back said during a 2019 speech that he “spent time at Quantico, up at the FBI training school.”
Y’all didn’t know I was an agent?” he said during the speech.
Walker never worked for the FBI as an agent. Walker’s campaign told CNN that he was joking, but he said during a 2017 speech that he had “FBI clearance” and that he went to Quantico. A Walker spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Walker spent a week at the FBI training academy in 1989 and provided an Associated Press article where Walker made the claim. The FBI did not verify Walker’s account.
He also claimed to have worked with law enforcement agencies such as the Cobb County Police Department and the Cobb County’s Sheriff’s Department, though no records of his involvement exist, The Atlantic Journal-Constitution reported.
“Herschel studied criminal justice at UGA and has supported and worked with law enforcement for years, including speaking to police about mental health, leading a women’s self-defense training, participating in the FBI Academy at Quantico, and being awarded honorary deputy status in Cobb, along with 3 other Georgia counties,” Walker’s campaign told Newsweek.
During the debate, Walker presented what appeared to be a police badge in response to Warnock’s claim. He has previously shared the badge on Twitter, claiming to be a special honorary deputy sheriff of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, according to Newsweek.
“Believing in no-cash bail, no accountability, that is a problem. People must be held accountable for their actions,” Walker said.
Warnock posted a statement to his verified Twitter account in October 2020 indicating his positive views on the end of cash bail. “No one should be stuck in jail just because they can’t afford cash bail. Poverty is not a crime, we must end cash bail,” Warnock said.
In 2018, Warnock supported an Atlanta city council bill that “allowed people arrested for minor crimes to get out of jail without paying cash bail,” according to Fox News. Warnock allegedly referred to bail as “wealth-based detention,” the outlet reported. Warnock’s 2020 campaign emphasized the ban only applied to misdemeanor and non-violent offenses, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Warnock has also expressed support for decriminalizing marijuana, community policing, and adopting sentencing reform to reduce prison populations, according to a 2020 voter guide published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We have not evicted those tenets,” Warnock said.
Warnock responded to accusations Walker made that his church, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, attempted to evict several renters in a low-income apartment building. The accusation stems from a Washington Free Beacon report about evictions against renters for failure to pay rent in the building. The church owns 99% of the building.
“They treat me like a piece of shit. They’re not compassionate at all,” one resident told The Free Beacon, who was facing eviction over $192 in unpaid rent. Eight residents were served dispossessory notices with two residents being evicted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the outlet reported.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Columbia Residential, which has a 1% ownership, moved to evict the residents. A spokesperson for the group claimed that Warnock and the church were not involved in the building’s operations.
“As the building’s sole management agent, Columbia Residential handles all aspects of property management at MLK Village; the building’s owners bear no responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the property, nor do they exercise any oversight of the building tenants’ rental transactions,” the spokesperson said to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Georgia Secretary of State Office’s Securities and Charities Division has launched an investigation into the Ebenezer Building Foundation, which is the church’s charity arm, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
Elias Atienza and Christine Sellers contributed to this report.