PoliGraph: DFL claims about Ortman’s record mostly true

poligraph-accurateWith the Republican endorsing convention more than a month away, the state’s DFL party still has a wide field of GOP candidates to target.

Among them is state Sen. Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, who is seeking her party’s endorsement to run against Democratic Sen. Al Franken. The DFL is using Ortman’s record as a legislator to paint her as out of step with Minnesota.

Here’s what DFL chair Ken Martin said in a recent press release about Ortman after she was endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“[Ortman] is wrong on women’s reproductive health, voting for a bill that defunded all family planning programs in the state. She’s wrong on immigration reform, saying she would have opposed the overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate immigration bill. And she’s wrong on health care, promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act and take us back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions couldn’t get covered and insurance companies were allowed to charge women more than men for coverage.”

There’s truth in Martin’s statement, but it needs context.

The Evidence

-          Ortman voted for a bill that “defunded all family planning programs in the state”: The DFL is referring to Ortman’s vote on a massive bill for the Department of Health and Human Services. The 193 page legislation did a lot of things, including preventing the department from appropriating “state funds or accept federal funds for family planning special projects or family planning services.” Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the bill, and the family planning language didn’t end up in the version that Dayton ultimately signed, which Ortman also voted for.

-          Ortman said she “would have opposed the overwhelmingly bipartisan Senate immigration bill”: Here, the DFL is referring to a bill passed by the U.S. Senate last summer with the help of 14 Republicans. In August of 2013, Ortman told MinnPost that she thought the bill didn’t go far enough to secure U.S. borders.

But that’s not to say that Ortman doesn’t support some sort of federal immigration overhaul. She told the Star Tribune last fall that she thinks Congress can agree on legislation that includes both strong border security and allows children brought here illegally to go to college. Ortman detailed her views on immigration in an April 2013 op-ed, writing that the federal government needs to secure its borders first and provide money to enforce new immigration laws.

-          The DFL also says that Ortman promised “to repeal the Affordable Care Act”: Ortman’s record on the Affordable Care Act is mixed. In September 2013, Ortman told the Star Tribune that she wasn’t “a full repeal person.” She said there were “some things about [the law] that are good” but that Congress should go “piece-by-piece through that new law and figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

But the DFL points out that Ortman more recently appears to have changed her tune. She recently told GOP activists that “we need to repeal Obamacare.” And Ortman wrote on Facebook that “of course I would vote to repeal ObamaCare.”

For their part, the Ortman campaign says that the DFL’s statement is entirely true:

“Senator Ortman is pro-life, against the Senate amnesty bill, and opposed to Obamacare,” said Jim Sanborn, Ortman’s political director.

The Verdict

There’s truth to what the DFL says about Ortman’s votes. But their claim also lacks context.

They fail to point out that Ortman’s vote to prohibit governmental funding of family planning services was part of a much broader bill that covered a lot of the Department of Health and Human Services programs.

And they make it seem that Ortman opposes changes to the nation’s immigration rules. She’s said that she thinks Congress can reach an agreement, even though she had issues with the immigration bill the U.S. Senate passed last summer.

That said, the DFL’s claim is mostly accurate.