Having found no statistical evidence to back up Rep. David McKinley’s (R-W. VA) extravagant claim about Seattle’s crime rate during a congressional hearing on the coal export proposal, we decided to follow-up and allow him the opportunity to explain himself.
During the hearing, where he was questioning Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn—who was in D.C. testifying against the controversial coal train proposal on Tuesday (video)—Rep. McKinley stated that Seattle has more violence than 94 percent of cities in the country.
Rather than providing any data to support that claim, McKinley’s spokesman Jim Forbes simply sent us two press release statements: One announced the Energy and Commerce Committee’s approval of McKinley’s legislation to reuse coal ash; the other, a summary of Tuesday's hearing, praised McKinley for defending West Virginia’s coal industry against “anti-coal extremists.”
The press release goes after McGinn:
In his testimony to the Committee, Mike McGinn Mayor of the City of Seattle, WA, wrote that America should “keep our coal in the ground where it belongs.”
“Anti-coal zealots should be called out for what they really believe,” said McKinley. “The witness yesterday confirmed what many others will not say publicly. He would like to ‘keep coal in the ground.’ This is a scary prospect for West Virginia and the United States economy.”
We called Forbes back and asked him to directly address his comment about Seattle's supposedly sky-high crime rate. Forbes had no further comments.
The Seattle Police Department, however, did have some comments to shoot back at McKinley.
A tweet on the SPD feed today boasts of a 7 percent drop in major crimes in Seattle for the past year, continuing 25 years of declining crime in Seattle. According to 2010 data from the U.S. Department of Justice, Seattle has less annual violent crimes than comparably-sized cities such as Austin, San Francisco, and Minneapolis, as well as major U.S. cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
SPD hash-tagged the tweet “coalstorybro” and addressed it to @RepMcKinley.
And in another tweet for @RepMcKinley, SPD cited the “coalincidence” that Washington state’s violent crimes saw a five percent decrease in the past year, while Washington coal power use dropped by 40 percent, according to data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which details U.S. coal consumption by state.
“In other news, WA violent crime dropped 5% in 2011. Unrelated (?!), WA coal power use dropped 40%. CC: @RepMcKinley #coalincidence,” reads SPD’s Twitter feed.
No tweet back from Rep. McKinley.