In a recent column I expressed hope for the 2014 election campaigns, made up of fair and open exchanges and presentation of contrasting candidates and contentions.
That didn’t get off to a very good start.
The self-entitled entity Americans for Prosperity gave our country, and particularly our area, a Christmas present by launching an end-of-year and early 2014 misleading negative attack on two targeted U.S. representatives — one from New Hampshire, and the other one our own Rick Nolan. Both are first-termers, facing stiff re-election challenges.
In Nolan’s case, it is against an opponent with tons of money of his own.
The Koch brothers, hiding as Americans for Prosperity, committed a total of more than $600,000 to this little venture in their attempt to decide what is best for us in northeastern Minnesota, and the equally unlucky citizens of one district in New Hampshire.
The self-titled Americans for Prosperity would better be identified as Very Rich Americans for Prosperity for Very Rich Americans, to the exclusion of all the rest of us. About half of the meddling money went to funding TV attack ads on Nolan. The misleading ads were directed at Nolan, and only Nolan in Minnesota, all taking a swipe at his support of the currently unfavored Obamacare.
That is strange and misleading in itself, as the four other DFL U.S. representatives and two U.S. senators from Minnesota were actively involved in the formation and passage of the Affordable Care Act, before Nolan was even elected. Strangely, the ad never notes nor acknowledges that Nolan’s term didn’t start until January 2013 while the much maligned Affordable Care Act was passed and became law in 2010.
The $600,000 for that ad campaign may be a drop in the bucket to the billionaire Koch brothers, but it is a huge, negative, outside and unwarranted expenditure pumped into our local congressional race that has barely begun. It is an approximate $300,000 unfair, misleading, misguided and deceptive attack on our hardworking congressman who strongly errs on the side of working more for all of us and spending less of his time raising money to preserve himself.
In the quarter million dollar-plus Minnesota ads, a man identified as from the southern part of the 8th District, a man most of us have never known and never will, gets on camera and says he’s losing his insurance policy contract because it doesn’t qualify under the Affordable Care Act, and he has had three heart attacks over the last six years. That is about all he says.
Then an off-camera voice blames Rick Nolan and tells Nolan to work to destroy our existing Affordable Care Act.
I wonder, does the guy in the ad want that part repealed which requires insurance companies to take him in despite pre-existing conditions? That is a huge protection that didn’t exist before the Affordable Care Act. The attack ad doesn’t say anything about the fact that despite strong party criticism, our independent thinking congressman has shown the political courage to stand up to Obama and Democratic leadership when he felt it in the best interest of 8th District constituents to do so.
If I remember correctly, the very subject of affordable health care was one of those instances. Wasn’t he one of the very few Democrats who went along with the Republican plan to ensure the protection of existing plans (such as the one the guy in the ad claimed he was losing) even though it would have threatened added cost and delay of implementation.
People of the 8th District are entitled to the best possible in representation — not the representation that big oil money can buy. It is bad enough that the Koch brothers were able to buy the governor of their choice in neighboring Wisconsin. Let’s not let them, or other similarly situated and motivated outsiders, pour their money in to dictate who represents us in northern Minnesota.
The people of the 8th District deserve better. We should be getting a full and fair opportunity to compare — on a true, factual basis — the relative merits of keeping our Congressman Rick Nolan for a second term or switching over to the Republican, or whatever other alternative candidate may emerge against him through the months as the election approaches.
I hope that in coming months we can convincingly prove that the 8th District is not for sale; and that its representation will not default to highest outsider bidders.
I hope their little plan backfires and that the Koch brothers have to go buy their kind of Tea Party congressman somewhere else.