Dem Rep. Karen Bass Defends Black GOP Sen. Tim Scott After 'Cotton to Congress' Fact Check

California Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass on Saturday defended GOP South Carolina Senator Tim Scott after a Washington Post fact-checking article highlighted several flaws in his longtime "cotton to Congress" stump speech.

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler wrote a Friday piece in the paper's "Fact Checker" section that pointed out numerous historical inconsistencies and missing "nuance" in Scott's story that his grandfather was "forced out of school as a third-grader to pick cotton...our family went from cotton to Congress in one lifetime." The article used U.S. Census data and South Carolina property records to poke holes in the family history of Scott, who in 2013 became the first Black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction.

Tim Scott is an honorable man. It doesn't matter what party you're in – the journey of his family, from cotton to Congress in one lifetime, should be celebrated.

— Karen Bass (@KarenBassTweets) April 24, 2021

"Our research reveals a more complex story than what Scott tells audiences. Scott's grandfather's father was also a substantial landowner," Kessler wrote in the fact-check piece, which pointed out several factual mix-ups from years of Scott telling the story of how his grandfather, Artis Ware, was forced out of school to pick cotton in the post-Civil War South.

And while numerous Republican colleagues touted Scott as a steadfast conservative and great contributor to the party's message after the fact-check piece ran, at least one Black Democrat also joined in defending Scott's story—fully true or false—from the historical critique.

"Tim Scott is an honorable man. It doesn't matter what party you're in—the journey of his family, from cotton to Congress in one lifetime, should be celebrated," congresswoman Bass responded to the article Saturday on Twitter.

Last year, Bass was placed among the top three vice president picks that Joe Biden was considering as his running mate. The California Democrat became chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019.

Scott is set to deliver on Wednesday the Republican address following President Joe Biden's first address to Congress as commander-in-chief.

The Washington Post piece acknowledged that its readers enjoy stories that hone in on "origin stories" that motivate politicians to run for office. Using property records and census data, the fact checkers noted Scott is not necessarily lying, but is more likely "relying on the memories of his grandfather" than on any detailed examination of historical records.

"Against heavy odds, Scott's ancestors amassed relatively large areas of farmland, a mark of distinction in the Black community at the time," the Post piece reads. "Scott, moreover, does not mention that his grandfather worked on his father's farm—a farm that was expanded through land acquisitions even during the Great Depression, when many other Black farmers were forced out of business."

Newsweek reached out to the offices of both Bass and Scott for additional remarks Saturday morning.

Tim Scott
Democratic lawmaker Karen Bass defended Black GOP Senator Tim Scott after a "cotton to congress" fact check piece on Saturday. Above, Scott leaves the Senate Floor at the U.S. Capitol on January 1. Photo by Liz Lynch/Getty