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Fact check: Does this Democratic candidate want to stop 'irresponsible breeding?'

An attack ad accuses Scott Wallace, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 1st District, of supporting a tax on families with many children.
Pennsylvania Democrat Scott Wallace running for Congress.
Pennsylvania Democrat Scott Wallace, who is running for Congress.Courtesy Scott Wallace for Congress

The National Republican Congressional Committee launched an attack ad this week claiming that the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's 1st Congressional District, Scott Wallace, wants to discourage people from having babies by taxing them.

“Scott Wallace wants to tax families of five for 'irresponsible breeding.' We know, because it's where his money went: Scott Wallace gave almost half a million dollars to a population control group. Their plan? Families of five are taxed to the hilt," the voiceover says, with a family looking shocked over a dinner table.

The ad was paid for by the NRCC, the campaign arm for House Republicans.

On Thursday, Wallace's campaign disputed the claims in the ad as misleading. Let's take a look at the facts.

Did Wallace say anything about 'irresponsible breeding?'

Short answer: No, those aren't his words.

Wallace, a wealthy lawyer and a grandson of former Vice President Henry A. Wallace, is seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick after years of running his family's charitable foundation, Wallace Global Fund.

In July, Fox News reported that between 1997 and 2003, Wallace Global Fund gave $420,000 to a group called Zero Population Growth (ZPG). The group was founded in 1968. That same year, they wrote in a brochure reprinted by academics at Yale University that "irresponsible people who have more than two children should be taxed to the hilt for the privilege of irresponsible breeding."

ZPG rebranded itself as Population Connection in 2002. The group's current president, John Seager, told NBC News it has long since abandoned the views expressed in the 1968 brochure. Since at least 1996, he said, the group has not supported "coercion" in their population growth work, instead focusing their efforts on supporting birth control access.

“As an organization, we’ve certainly tried to get smarter over the decades,” Seager told NBC News.

Does he want to tax large families? Did he support a group that does?

Wallace's campaign says he does not want to tax large families.

"Of course, he does not support taxing parents for having more than two children. He supports letting women and families make their own decisions," campaign spokesman Zoe Wilson-Meyer said, calling the ad "extremely misleading."

His family foundation did support a group that had espoused those views in the past, but his campaign says it was before the candidate started running the foundation.

Wilson-Meyer said Wallace took the reins of the foundation in December 2003, after the last of the donations were given to the group in question. Population Connection told NBC News that the final donation was given to them on March 4, 2003.

Responding to Fox News in July, the campaign did not dispute Wallace's role in his family's foundation and instead defended the foundation's work supporting reproductive rights.

Wallace's campaign website previously said he ran his family foundation for “the last two decades,” according to an internet archive, but the website has since been updated to say he was only in charge for the past 15 years.

"This is another shameless lie by Fox News and Washington Republicans. Scott Wallace wasn't even running the foundation at the time these grants were approved. He has three kids himself, including two daughters, and his foundation has focused on empowering women, so women can make their own choices about their families and their reproductive health," Wilson-Meyer said in a statement Thursday.

So, where does Wallace stand on population growth?

On his campaign website, Wallace identifies population growth as a top international concern, and seems to support the Population Connection group.

“Two fundamental drivers of conflict are population growth and climate change — issues which my wife, Christy, and I have spent decades working to mitigate,” his campaign website reads.

When the political arm of Population Connection, Population Connection Action Fund, endorsed Wallace in May, he gave them a statement to release on his behalf.

“The goal of ensuring that every woman can make her own decisions about her reproductive life is as crucial to me as it was to my parents, who devoted many decades of their lives to Population Action International, Planned Parenthood, and our family foundation, the Wallace Global Fund. I have been proud to continue their work for the last 15 years,” Wallace said. “I am committed to continuing this work in Congress and to opposing any efforts to undermine family planning and reproductive health care anywhere in the world.”