Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's (R) gubernatorial campaign claimed last week that the candidate "awarded over $1 billion to victims of crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence" -- but a closer look at the numbers reveals the campaign has exaggerated that total.
Abbott's campaign made the claim in response to pressure from his opponent, former State Rep. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth), who has spent the past couple of weeks highlighting her work addressing sexual assault and criticizing Abbott for repeatedly siding against rape victims as attorney general.
“Victims of sexual assault in Texas have no greater advocate than Greg Abbott, who as attorney general has spearheaded the arrests of over 4,500 sex offenders and awarded over $1 billion to victims of crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence," Amelia Chasse, deputy communications director for Abbott's campaign, fired back against Davis.
Chasse had claimed two days earlier in an email to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that $1 billion had been awarded "to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence," not "crimes like" those.
The Abbott campaign told HuffPost it had reached the $1 billion total by adding up all the money the state legislature has appropriated for the Crime Victims' Compensation Program -- which includes legal services grants, a statewide victims notification system and children's advocacy centers -- from 2004 through 2015.
According to the latest annual report of the Crime Victims' Compensation Program, $12.4 million was awarded to sexual assault victims and $23.8 million to victims of child sexual abuse from 2003 through 2013. The total amount of money awarded to victims of all crimes during that time period, including including robbery, homicide, driving while intoxicated and arson, equals $782 million -- just short of the "more than $1 billion" in Abbott's claim. Abbott was elected in 2002.
“Sen. Davis and her campaign are grasping at straws to undermine Greg Abbott’s unmatched record of fighting for crime victims as Texas’ Attorney General," Chasse said.
The Davis campaign claims Abbott is deliberately exaggerating the amount of money he has awarded sexual assault victims.
"The reason Greg Abbott has to mislead the public about his record on sexual assault is that as a Texas Supreme Court Justice, Abbott ruled against victims of rape four out of five times and now he's desperately trying to paper over that record," Lauren Weiner, a spokeswoman for Davis' campaign, told HuffPost.