A Senate candidate in Pennsylvania has been caught falsely claiming she was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Her defense: Anybody who spent time at a community college didn’t really go to college.
Katie McGinty, a Democrat and former environmental adviser to President Bill Clinton, is trying to unseat Republican Pat Toomey in what is considered a major pickup opportunity for Democrats in the fall elections.
But in a report published Wednesday night, Buzzfeed News caught McGinty embellishing her biography. McGinty has repeatedly claimed to be the first person in her family to attend college, even though she is ninth of ten children.
“As the ninth of 10 kids and the first in my family to go to college, I’ve been privileged to live the American dream,” she said in an Associated Press story in January.
But Buzzfeed found that her claim doesn’t match reality. By assessing commencement records, they found that her brother John McGinty graduated from La Salle University with a four-year degree in 1973, eight years before McGinty even matriculated at Saint Joseph’s University. Not only that, but his Facebook page even indicates that he received a masters in education in 1978 from Temple University.
McGinty has defended herself by arguing that her brother John doesn’t really have a four-year degree because he earned some of his credits from a community college.
“As Katie has said, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from a four-year college,” campaign spokesman John Levitt told Buzzfeed. “Her brother completed a two-year program then applied the credits to receive his bachelors.” Levitt didn’t address the times where McGinty has claimed to be the first in her family to attend college at all.
John McGinty has defended his sister by rephrasing her claim in a far more limited way that she actually has herself.
“The way that Katie and our family have always talked about our experience is she was the first of the 10 McGinty kids to attend and graduate from a four-year college, straight out of high school,” he told Buzzfeed. “We were all really proud of that, just as we were proud that I earned my degree by completing a two-year program and then enrolling in La Salle.”
Community college has been a major focus for both Republican and Democratic lawmakers looking to increase college graduation rates while lowe ring costs. Tennessee was the first state to provide every student in the state with two years of free community college; President Obama has called for a national version of the same program.
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