Democratic Senate candidate Katie McGinty has often claimed on the campaign trail to be the first member of her family to attend college. Records reviewed by BuzzFeed News, however, reveal that McGinty's older brother graduated from college eight years before she entered.
"I was the first in my family to go to college, and I did so with the help of a scholarship," wrote McGinty, who is challenging Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, in a Feb. 25 Facebook post.
"As the ninth of 10 kids and the first in my family to go to college, I've been privileged to live the American dream," she is quoted as saying in a January Associated Press story.
As recent as late April, she said, in a speech to the NAACP, "Even though I was number nine, I was the very first one to go to college in my family."
According to commencement records, however, her brother, John McGinty, graduated from La Salle University, a four-year college, in 1973 with a Bachelor of Arts. John P. McGinty's LinkedIn account, which is no longer publicly accessible, also listed him as having attended La Salle from 1970 to 1973, after attending the Community College of Philadelphia from 1968 to 1970. His Facebook page also lists him as a member of the La Salle class of '73 and as a member of the Temple University class of 1978, where his page says he got a master's in education.
Katie McGinty entered Saint Joseph's University in 1981.
McGinty sometimes phrases the claim differently, saying she was "first in her family to go to a four-year college," which is how it appears on her campaign website and in a May 23 press release. On Wednesday, she tweeted, "Lauren: Katie understands what I'm going through. She was the 1st in her family to go to a 4-year college and didn't hold anything back". The claim was also included an April 28 fundraising email for the McGinty campaign from Vice President Joe Biden.
When reached for comment, McGinty campaign spokesman Josh Levitt said, "As Katie has said, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from a four-year college. Her brother completed a two-year program then applied the credits to receive his bachelors."
On Thursday, McGinty's campaign released the following statement from John McGinty:
"The way that Katie and our family have always talked about our experience is she was the first of the 10 McGinty kids to attend and graduate from a four-year college, straight out of high school," the statement said. "We were all really proud of that, just as we were proud that I earned my degree by completing a two-year program and then enrolling in La Salle."
The La Salle University registrar's office confirmed on Thursday that John McGinty entered the university in January, 1971 and graduated in May, 1973.
Christopher Massie is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Christopher Massie at Christopher.Massie@buzzfeed.com.
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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