As the midterm elections inch their way closer this fall, tough rhetoric continues to flow in one of the more hotly contested races in the country. That race is found deep in the heart of Arizona between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Krysten Sinema, who are running for U.S. Senate.
However, one of the key claims made by Sinema is now being challenged by The New York Times.
Throughout the campaign, Sinema, a member of Congress who represents Arizona’s 9th District, has repeatedly made the claim that she comes from humble beginnings. She recounts in interviews and in speeches that she spent the majority of her childhood living homeless and in a former gas station without utilities.
In February, she tweeted, “I’m a little bit different than most people in politics. For nearly 3 years, my family lived in an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity. Those were tough times, but I knew it could be different.”
I'm a little bit different than most people in politics. For nearly 3 years, my family lived in an abandoned gas station without running water or electricity. Those were tough times, but I knew it could be different.
I got my shot & now it’s my duty to help others get theirs. pic.twitter.com/cG3zjJVwHg
— Kyrsten Sinema (@kyrstensinema) February 23, 2018
Additionally, Sinema touts the idea that she would be the rare senator who has dealt with being homeless.
However, court documents obtained by The Times are now casting a shadow of doubt on her claims.
In 1984, Sinema moved with her mother, stepfather and two siblings to the Panhandle of Florida. It was there, according to The Times, that her father worked as a part-time computer science teacher.
While it was true that the family of five moved to a former gas station, filings in 1985 and 1986 from a divorce between Sinema’s mother and stepfather reveal that payments were made monthly to utility companies, including electric, water and even the phone company.
Andy Howard, Sinema’s stepfather, wrote to the court, “We are unable to provide adequately for the children.” He continued by saying that “bills will exceed $2,000 and I will only bring in $1,500.”
When asked about the bills in an interview with The Times, Sinema appeared to dodge the question and focus on the fact they were homeless. “Being homeless is when an individual or family are living in a situation that’s not really stable, when you’re living in a place that’s not meant for living in,” she said.
In fact, when asked specifically about why her father mentioned payments to the utility companies, Sinema said, “Oh gosh, I don’t have an answer to that. That’s not something a little kid would hear about from her parents.”
This isn’t the first time, however, Sinema has been pressed on conflicting claims. The New York Times notes that in 2013, Sinema spoke to The Washington Post and mentioned that her family had a toilet.
She was pressed by the news organization on how they could flush the toilet with no water. She had no answer.
Additionally, Sinema’s step-aunt, Susie Fleming, disagreed with the claim that the family had no utilities. In fact, she told The Post, “I realize this tugs at people’s heartstrings and that was what she was going for, but, you know, it’s not the truth. When they decided to move out here, my dad said, ‘We’ll remodel the building and y’all can live in it.’
“I just get angry when she says it was an abandoned gas station.”
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