Lansing — The conservative political group Americans for Prosperity is launching a $1 million, three-week statewide advertising campaign in Michigan targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters for his support of the new federal health care law.
The ad shows a video clip of President Barack Obama’s debunked claim to voters that “if you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan” under the Affordable Care Act.
AFP President Tim Phillips said the ad is not meant to hinder Peters’ campaign for the U.S. Senate, although he acknowledges his group isn’t targeting any other Michigan politician who has supported Obama’s health care law in any way, which includes Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican.
“We don’t have electoral intent with this ad,” Phillips told reporters. “It’s a long-term effort to repeal Obamacare, and that necessarily involves moving the public further and further our way on this issue of Obamacare. ... We think the only way to see the eventual repeal of this law is to keep it on the very front burner for Americans.”
The ad was to begin airing on broadcast and cable television stations Tuesday evening, Phillips said.
Phillips said AFP paid for the ad through its not-for-profit 501(c)4 organization, which does not have to disclose the donors of “issue ads” educating voters on political candidates without telling them whom to vote for.
The Americans for Prosperity ad urges voters to “call Gary Peters and tell him Obamacare isn’t working, it’s hurting Michigan families.”
Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, voted in November with Michigan’s nine Republicans in favor of a bill that would have allowed insurers to continue offering canceled health plans to millions of Americans.
An estimated 225,000 Michiganians received cancellation notices late last year because their plans didn’t cover required essential benefits under Obamacare, such as hospitalization, mental health, maternity and prescription drug coverage.
As part of its $1 million ad buy, AFP also will air about $75,000 in radio ads in markets across the state as well as buy online advertising targeting Peters for his vote and continued support of Obamacare, Phillips said.
Phillips and AFP’s Michigan state director, Scott Hagerstrom, unveiled the ad Tuesday at a press conference outside of the state Capitol. The group planned to hold its press conference inside the Capitol, but was told to leave after House Speaker Jase Bolger’s office learned they planned to unveil the Peters ad, Bolger spokesman Ari Adler said.
Earlier in the day, Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Lon Johnson attempted to step on the group’s message by drawing attention to an August video clip of Peters’ likely opponent, Republican Terri Lynn Land, in which the former secretary of state indicates her campaign has been in talks with outside groups.
“Our campaign has talked to a lot of those folks. They’re committed to Michigan,” Land said of super political action committees at a Leelanau County Republican women’s event in August.
It’s illegal for candidates to coordinate with third-party groups, such as Super PACs or groups like Americans for Prosperity.
“You’ve got Terri Lynn Land admitting her campaign has communicated with Super PACs and now you’ve got proof of it with this Americans for Prosperity TV ad,” Johnson said.
Asked which outside groups the Land campaign has been in contact with, Land’s political adviser John Yob sent a statement to The Detroit News saying: “This is nothing more than a desperate attempt by dishonest Democrats to shift attention away from the fact that their candidates for statewide office are failing in the polls after being dishonest with voters and claiming Michiganders could keep their insurance if they liked it.”
Johnson said the Democratic Party is giving “strong consideration” to filing a complaint against the Land campaign with the Federal Election Commission.