Republican gubernatorial candidate Garrett Soldano.(garrettformichigan.com)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Garrett Soldano.(garrettformichigan.com)

MICHIGAN—According to Garrett Soldano, one of the GOP candidates vying for the chance to challenge Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November, he’s a moderate candidate with moderate values.

“Are you the kind of guy who is careful what they say these days?” Michael Patrick Shiels, host of “Michigan’s Big Show,” asked Soldano in an interview June 20.

“No,” Soldano answered. “What I’m going to bring to the table is just common sense and the truth. And I think that’s what all Michiganders and Americans want out of their elected officials now.” (1:40 – 2:05)

Soldano’s version of common sense, however, isn’t always in sync with the truth. The Mattawan chiropractor and self-help author has been criticized extensively for spreading misinformation and bogus science about COVID-19, resulting in him being permanently banned from YouTube last September.

But is COVID-19 just a rare fringe topic for Soldano? Here’s a roundup of recent fact checks:

“100% Pro Life”

Soldano says he’s “100% pro-life.” What does that mean to him?

In cases of rape: Soldano said a carrying a pregnancy to term is the “heroic” thing for a rape victim to do. However, he doesn’t share any “common sense” about how to help the 94% of rape victims who experience PTSD following their attacks, how to change Michigan’s standing as the state with the fourth-highest rape rate in the US, or how to help reduce the national average rape rate of one rape every 1-2 minutes.

The morning-after pill: Soldano claims that “Plan B” pills destroy an already-conceived embryo, and believes they should be banned. However, Plan B and other emergency contraceptives work by preventing pregnancy from occurring, not aborting one.

Common sense verdict: Soldano is misinformed – a dangerous thing for a gubernatorial candidate to be – and out of step with Michiganders. This is illustrated in a poll by WDIV and the Detroit News, which found that 77% of residents believe that abortion is a choice that should be left to the individual and their doctor, rather than regulated by law.

2020 Election

2000 Mules: Soldano bases his questions about the integrity of the 2020 election on “2000 Mules,” a film purporting to show video evidence of illegal activity taking place in the lead-up to election night.

“You know, what we need to do is, we need to bring every single one of these mules in and investigate and find out what was going on,” Soldano said in a June 16 interview on the WOOD Radio show “West Michigan Live.” “And so that’s what you kind of hit them right in the face with that, because it’s just common sense. We’ve seen the video evidence. We know there were shenanigans done.” (26:02 – 26:57)

In fact, the film does show surveillance footage of multiple individuals stopping at ballot dropboxes. But while it claims that these “mules” deposited ballots at multiple boxes, it shows no footage of a single person stopping at more than one box or performing any illegal activity. It further uses the flawed claim of geolocation to track “mules.” The geolocation technology used, however, simply recorded citizens in the local vicinity of ballot dropboxes, with no data on their activity. Since the majority of ballot dropboxes are located in high traffic areas – like near post offices, government buildings, and shopping areas – there’s no basis for any of the tracked citizens to be labeled as “mules.”

Audits: Soldano has repeatedly called for a full forensic audit of the 2020 election, even though more than 250 audits have already revealed a complete lack of evidence that any fraud took place. Take just one Michigan example, which happens to be an audit run by the Republican-led Oversight Committee.

Common sense verdict: Soldano is banking on the exact same conspiracy theories that other fringe candidates are cashing in on.

LGBTQ+ Rights

“No problem”: Soldano has said he has no problem with the LGBTQ+ community (Michigan’s Big Show, 2:33 – 2:58). However, on several occasions, Soldano has referred to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her administration as the “woke groomer mafia” – a term heavily popularized within right-wing discourse as a pejorative against LGBTQ+ people and political opponents who support their rights. Its origins come from bigoted stereotypes accusing gay and trans people of being pedophiles. The recent uptick of abuse and harassment using this word has led some to call “groomer” an anti-LGBTQ slur.

Don’t Say Gay: If elected, Soldano said he wants to copy Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which bans any mention of gender identity or sexuality in K-3 classrooms (West Michigan Live, 20:15 – 20:36). Opponents say that the bill is discriminatory, and its vague language could open potential for a school to be sued if they include LGBTQ+ material in any level of instruction. Proponents say that the bill is meant to protect children from “grooming.” But a Courier Newsroom poll indicates that voters overwhelmingly reject the idea that discussions of gender and sexuality count as grooming.

Kids and Treatments: Soldano claimed without evidence that gender-affirming treatments and surgeries are being pushed on minors. “Sex hormones at age 14, breast removal at age 15, genital surgeries at age 17. You know, when did we ever think this was okay?” (West Michigan Live, 21:14 – 21:32) 

Medical organizations such as the Endocrine Society typically recommend that hormone treatments be reserved for ages 16 and up. Patients younger than 16 will at times be prescribed medication to block the onset of puberty until their understanding of their gender identity can develop further – a non-permanent treatment. Far from being new or dangerous, these medications have largely been used for cisgender children who enter puberty too early. Top surgery (removal of breast tissue) is almost exclusively reserved for adults 18 and older.

All of these treatments are shown to have serious benefits: 16 separate studies over the past 10 years have demonstrated a significant link between gender-affirming treatments and improved mental health outcomes for patients.

Common sense verdict: Soldano’s claims of being a moderate Republican only reflect his lack of education on the issues, and an overarching theme of hoping true moderate Republicans don’t look too closely at his record before Michigan’s primary election.

Soldano’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.