Saturday, May 2, 2020

New McSally health care testimonial is from campaign staffer

McSally ad features health care testimonial from her former aide, doesn’t disclose ties writes Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at the Arizona Republic. (Thanks to David Gordon at Blog for Arizona for his post.)

There are two kinds of lies. There are lies of commission, saying something that is provably false.

And then there are lies of omission, not saying something that is true.

This report tags both.

Sen. Martha McSally has a new campaign ad featuring a cancer survivor who talks about how her “path collided” with McSally, whom she describes as a champion for protecting those with pre-existing medical conditions.

The emotional television ad, which started Thursday, doesn’t disclose that the woman worked for McSally’s congressional office and as a campaign staffer over the years or that in 2014 she helped defend McSally’s attackson the Affordable Care Act and roll its coverage protections back.

In the ad, Kristen Douglas talks about her severe health issues during her late 20s. After a year of testing, doctors found a mass in her brain and, with medical bills mounting, she said she got a letter from her insurance company dropping her.

Six weeks after Douglas was given a clean bill of health, she met McSally, who Douglas says in the ad gave her a “new sense of hope.”

“Martha McSally will fight tirelessly to make sure people with pre-existing conditions are insured,” Douglas said in the ad, which features her sitting alongside McSally and an image of the two women hugging.

Watch the ad here.

The one-minute ad is a testimonial intended to blunt a major attack line against McSally by her Democratic opponent Mark Kelly and his allies against her repeated votes as a member of the House of Representatives to undo, tweak or roll back the 2010 health care law implemented by President Barack Obama and Democrats.

McSally voted for the GOP-backed American Health Care Act, which allowed insurers to charge those with pre-existing conditions higher premiums, which the Affordable Care Act prohibited. The AHCA prohibited insurance companies from denying people coverage for having pre-existing conditions.

More recently, in the Senate, McSally is a co-sponsor of 2019 legislation introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., that would guarantee coverage in the individual or group market, regardless of pre-existing conditions. The bill has not advanced.

Dylan Lefler, McSally’s campaign manager, said McSally and Douglas have had a close bond for years and her experience navigating the health care system resonates with everyday Arizonans.

“After winning her battle with cancer, Kristen met Martha and was inspired by her message,” Lefler said in a statement to The Arizona Republic. “She eventually decided to work for Martha serving the people of Arizona. … Kristen has known Martha for over a decade and when she heard the lies being spread across Arizona, she decided to speak up and share her first-hand experience about how Martha has fought for individuals with pre-existing conditions.”

In a statement unveiling the new ad, Lefler decried the attacks: “Our campaign won’t sit back and let these false attacks fester; we are going to fight back with the truth and fight back aggressively.”

Douglas has earned at least $381,000 for her work with McSally in various capacities throughout the years, according to figures tracked by the Federal Election Commission and the website LegiStorm.com.

In 2014, Douglas managed McSally’s House race and helped her champion her position on the Affordable Care Act. At the time, Douglas described the law to The Republic’s fact-check team as “an experiment in social engineering that discourages genuine competition, is funded by mandates, penalties and taxes.”

Douglas later worked as McSally’s deputy chief of staff in the House from January 2015 through August 2017. She most recently worked as a consultant during McSally’s 2018 unsuccessful run for the Senate.

Douglas has not been paid by McSally’s campaign since March 2018, records show.

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