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Truth Test: Kevin Stitt’s Business Record

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An ad against Republican Gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt is making some pretty big claims about Stitt and his company’s record lending mortgages.

If you missed it, the sweatshirts read, “Business Insider called my business one of the top 10 shadiest companies. I was personally banned from doing business in Georgia. I’ve been sued for sex discrimination and sexual harassment.”

So is any of it true? Yes, Yes and not quite. Let’s start with the first claim. The article is this one from 2009. It shows the mortgage company Stitt founded in 2000, Gateway Mortgage, on Business Insider’s shadiest 15 companies list, not ten. The article said Gateway gave out nearly twice as many bad mortgages as its competitors.

As for the second claim, Stitt and his company were both banned from doing business in Georgia. According to Georgia’s Department of Banking and Finance, records from 2009 show Gateway Mortgage was banned for life and Stitt was banned for 5 years. We don’t’ know why and the records weren’t subject to request but a Department of Commerce hearing from Tennessee in 2013 said the Georgia ban stemmed from Stitt and his company making false statements and misrepresenting facts to lenders. It also said he was reprimanded or fined in 7 other states.

The final claim is somewhat off base. Yes, Stitt’s company was sued from gender discrimination in two state courts and in federal court but Stitt was not. The allegations are based off two suits. The first happened in 2011. The accuser was an employee at Gateway in Tulsa. She sued after being called back from maternity leave and only to be let go and replaced by a younger, man. She also names Stitt personally saying he yelled at her on at least one occasion. That case was then sent to federal court but was settled.

The other suit was in Missouri. There another employee described a sexually hostile workplace and claimed she was also fired and replaced by a younger, less qualified man. That case also settled out of court.

But Stitt was not named as a defendant either suit and neither of the former employees sued over sexual harassment as claimed in the ad.

So is this attack ad telling the truth? We give it two truths and one misleading.

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