A viral video claiming to present statistics about poor conduct by members of Congress has racked up millions of views across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
In the video, a preacher rattles off a list of crimes and financial failures, at first telling his audience these are how many athletes in either the NBA or NFL have committed those acts.
“Thirty-six have been accused of spousal abuse,” he says. “Seven have been arrested for fraud. Nineteen have been accused of writing bad checks. One-hundred seventeen have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least two businesses. Three have done time for assault. Seventy-one, I repeat 71, cannot get a credit card due to their bad credit. Fourteen have been arrested on drug-related charges. Eight have been arrested for shoplifting. Twenty-one currently are defendants in lawsuits and 84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year.”
He asks his audience to guess whether he’s talking about professional football or basketball players, then shocks them by saying actually, he’s talking about members of Congress.
But VERIFY viewers wanted to know: is there any credibility to this video and the statistics mentioned in it?
Are the statistics about alleged conduct by members of Congress, referenced in this viral video, true?
No, the statistics are not true. They originated from a 1999 blog post that provided no supporting evidence.
WHAT WE FOUND
The video widely circulating now on social media – which shows a preacher named Mark Bailey – was recorded more than a decade ago, in 2012.
But the statistics Bailey references are even older. They originated in 1999, in a blog post on the website Capitol Hill Blue.
The blog’s anonymous author claimed the statistics were compiled via “research” conducted by the staff, but did not provide any evidence, and names only a few of the hundreds of Congress members they’re accusing.
The statistics have no factual basis. Much of the information the author claims to have found through “public records, past newspaper articles, civil court cases and criminal records” (none of which they link to) could not be obtained without a subpoena.
Nonetheless, the statistics spread rapidly, at first in the form of chain emails, which sometimes slightly tweaked the specific numbers used.
One such email eventually made its way to Bailey. In the viral video, he says he was forwarded the list by his son.
The email chains have been repeatedly debunked by fact-checkers; we found articles about them published in 2000, 2009, and 2014.
Bailey has said he has not repeated the list since his 2012 speech, and does not plan to in the future given the statistics have been debunked.
Capitol Hill Blue itself eventually removed the stats from its article, then later deleted the post altogether, the Internet Archive shows.
Members of Congress have been convicted of crimes before, but there was no evidence for the sweeping claims made in 1999, and there’s no evidence for them in 2023.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.