News Column

Koch Brothers Group Funds Anti-Obamacare Ads

February 7, 2014

Fredreka Schouten, @fschouten, USA TODAY

Americans for Prosperity unleashed two more rounds of ads Thursday attacking President Obama's health care law, bringing to $27 million the amount it has poured into an aggressive campaign to blister the law and Democrats who supported it ahead of the midterm elections.

The conservative advocacy group, aligned with billionaire industrialists David Koch and Charles Koch, plans to spend $400,000 on ads targeting Florida Democratic Reps. Alan Grayson and Joe Garcia. It also released a new online commercial Thursday that seizes on a new federal report that concludes the law could reduce the number of full-time workers in the USA by more than 2 million. The Congressional Budget Office report says that would happen because people may choose to work fewer hours if they can do so without losing health insurance.

The grim ad accuses Obama of lying about the law's impact and says the reduction in full-time employment will hurt "the economy and middle-class families."

The advertising barrage from the group has rattled Democrats, who are fighting to retain their hold on the Senate majority in November. The group's biggest spending target -- nearly $7.4 million to date -- is North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, one of four incumbent Democratic senators seeking re-election in states won by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to capture the majority in the Senate.

"The bad news about Obamacare keeps rolling out, and we need to help people remember who voted for this law," said Americans for Prosperity spokesman Levi Russell.

Driven largely by the group's spending, the advertising activity in House and Senate races "right now is more intense than it has ever been before," said Elizabeth Wilner, who tracks political commercials at Kantar's Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The early barrage of commercials takes a toll because it "forces incumbents and strong challengers to spend money early, so they won't have it later," said Tad Devine, a veteran Democratic strategist in Washington.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., the target of a steady stream of health-care-related ads from Americans for Prosperity, launched her first commercial of the campaign Dec. 11.

Americans for Prosperity is organized as a non-profit social welfare organization and is supposed to avoid partisan politics. In its ads, it steers clear of calling for the election or defeat of candidates. Instead, it funds "issue ads," which urge voters to call individual lawmakers to sound off. As a non-profit, AFP does not have to disclose its donors.

Copyright 2014 USA TODAY

Original headline: Koch-linked group spends $27M on ads

Source: Copyright 2014 USA TODAY

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