Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) laughed at his Democratic challenger, Joy Hofmeister, for accurately noting during a debate that the state had higher violent crime rates than New York and California.

“So let’s talk about facts: The fact is, the rates of violent crime are higher in Oklahoma under your watch than in New York or California,” said Hofmeister, who is Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction. “That’s a fact.”

Stitt interrupted her, laughing and saying that the information was not true.

“Hang on, Oklahomans, do you believe we have higher crime than New York or California? That’s what she just said!” he said, receiving a round of applause and cheering.

But Hofmeister was correct.

According to the most recent data compiled by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Oklahoma had a homicide rate of 9 deaths per 100,000 in 2020, compared with California’s rate of 6.1 and New York’s rate of 4.7.

The moment that went viral on social media happened when they were discussing the decisions made by the Pardon and Parole Board, including the early release of Lawrence Paul Anderson, who killed three people after leaving the prison. Stitt said that she was using the episode to score political points and that was “disgusting.”

During the debate, the moderator of NonDoc, a nonprofit media outlet that organized the debate, announced that Hofmeister’s claims would be fact-checked by The Frontier, another independent news site.

After the event, Frontier labeled the allegations “true, but misleading” because Oklahoma crime rates have been consistently higher than the national average, including New York and California.

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