Did Rep. Sinema really grow up without electricity and water

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is up against Republican Rep. Martha McSally a key matchup in deciding which party controls the upper chamber next year and a close battle in our state. 

In a video online by Rep. Sinema she says that when she was younger she had to live without water and electricity. Here is a transcript of those claims from her video. 

My dad lost his job. Then my parents got divorced. My mom struggled to take care of us kids on her own. First we lost our car. Then we lost our home. For nearly three years, we lived in an old abandoned gas station without running water or electricity. Sometimes we didn’t have enough food to eat. But we got by, thanks to help from family, church, and sometimes, even the government. 

These claims are now being questioned by multiple media outlets. The New York Times refers to court documents where her mother and step father presented electric, phone , and gas bills as part of her mother's divorce proceedings. 

In filings from 1985 and 1986 to the judge who handled her parents’ divorce, Ms. Sinema’s mother and stepfather outlined monthly payments they made for an electric bill, phone bill and gas bill while living in the former gas station, which was owned by her stepfather’s parents, according to the records reviewed by The Times. The stepfather’s parents lived in a farmhouse nearby.

“We are unable to provide adequately for the children,” Mr. Howard wrote to the court, noting that in the following month his “bills will exceed $2,000 and I will only bring in $1,500.”

So how can you have a power bill when you didn't have electricity. She was asked this by the New York times and her was her response. 

As for why her stepfather listed those payments for power, gas and a phone if they had no electricity, Ms. Sinema paused. “Oh gosh, I don’t have an answer for that,” she said. “That’s not something a little kid would hear about from her parents.”

Asked twice whether she had ever embellished details about her childhood, Ms. Sinema paused and did not answer directly. “I’ve shared what I remember from my childhood. I know what I lived through,” she said.

The Phoenix New Times published the response from the Sinema campaign to the claims made in the New York Times. 

Sinema campaign emailed a list of statements from her mother and stepfather, an aunt, her stepbrother, and a childhood friend, who vouched for Sinema's story of those nearly three years she spent living in the DeFuniak Springs gas station.

In the same email, Sinema's communications director James Owen wrote, "In terms of the divorce documents referenced in the story, as we explained to the New York Times, they are not utility statements or proof of service at the gas station."

Owen added, "As her parents and other reporting have confirmed: the gas station Kyrsten’s family lived in did not have running water or electricity when they lived there."

Here is the video that Sinema posted online.

Mike Broomhead

Mike Broomhead

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