WASHINGTON – The first TV ad of Minnesota’s U.S. Senate race will hit the air tomorrow with Republican challenger Mike McFadden taking metaphorical shots with a hockey puck at DFL Sen. Al Franken.
The ad criticizes Franken for his votes that increased government spending and taxes as well as his support for the Affordable Care Act. But the ad misses the mark with a charge that Franken voted to “exempt Congress from it.”(*See clarification below) In fact, members of Congress and their staffs can only buy employer-subsidized health insurance from the exchanges that are central to the law. The fact-checking website Politifact and the Washington Post’s fact-checker have rated similar claims as mostly false.
The ad buy is small, $9,800 on Twin Cities cable, though the campaign says it plans to make additional buys soon. McFadden is the best-funded of a large pool of Republicans hoping to take on Franken this fall. He says he hopes to receive the GOP’s endorsement next month but will seek the nomination via the primary if necessary. The ad campaign comes a day after McFadden announced a $600,000 first quarter fundraising haul — $2.1 million less than Franken’s total.
*CLARIFICATION - McFadden’s campaign writes to say that the ad’s claim about Franken’s vote to exempt Congress from Obamacare is based on an amendment that was voted down during the Affordable Care Act debate in 2010. That amendment, submitted by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, required the President, Vice President, senior political appointees and members of Congress to purchase healthcare through the exchanges. While the amendment was defeated, the bill already contained language requiring members of Congress and their staffs to purchase insurance through the exchange. That language had been added by Grassley when the Senate Finance Committee marked up the bill. Franken ultimately voted for the Affordable Care Act with the requirement Congress take part in its exchanges.