I’ve got a suggestion for Charles and David Koch. If you’re going to go after a Democrat in a U.S. Senate race, attacking Russ Feingold’s integrity is probably not your best bet. This is the senator that voted against the Patriot Act. THE senator. The ONE senator. As in, final vote in the Senate was 98-1, and Russ stood alone. A decade-and-a-half later, and he looks like a genius. Maybe he is. A $2 million ad buy can’t beat genius.
After serving three terms in the U.S. Senate, Feingold was one of many victims of the 2010 Tea Party wave that replaced him with Republican Ron Johnson, who quickly managed to curry disdain even from within his own party. Now, in 2016, Russ is back and making waves, holding a 10-point lead in the most recent poll.
How can a pair of billionaire bros compete with that? Well, by lying, of course. Their latest ad has already been taken down by three local TV stations because it accused Feingold, of looking the other way on a serious veterans issue. The ad claims he ignored a memo outlining an issue at the Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center dealing with the over-prescription of opioid painkillers.
The problem is that Feingold’s senate office never got that memo; even the person that wrote the memo says it never got to him. And the Koch brothers and Ron Johnson were fully aware of this from when they tried to pull the same stunt in January in a print ad. The memo’s author, Lin Ellinghuysen, already corrected them then, and unfortunately has to again on the same topic. Ellinghuysen says that it was mistakenly marked as “hand-delivered,” but never actually made it to the offices of the Democratic lawmakers. U.S. House Representative Ron Kind, another Democrat listed on the memo, confirmed that his office also didn’t receive it.
With three local TV stations pulling the ad, and several more considering it, the Koch brothers leapt into action to correct the record on their obvious mistake by putting together the following video:
Did you hear it? It’s subtle, but just enough to let a billionaire be able to sleep at night. Ryan Honl, the person talking in the ad, changed a few of the words around in order to make the ad sorta kinda technically truthish. In the original, he says this:
“I found out that Russ Feingold got a memo in 2009…”
As it was proven that Russ never actually got the memo, the Koch-funded Freedom Partners Action Fund changed it to this:
“I found out about multiple memos, outlining veteran harm, marked ‘delivered’ to Senator Feingold…”
In other words, the fact that the memos say they were delivered is all that matters, even though there is irrefutable proof that they were not actually delivered. Feingold’s campaign manager Tom Russell was not impressed by the update.
“I think we’ve already proven to this point that the claim that this memo was delivered to then-Sen. Feingold’s office was untrue. Taking this ad home, washing it and resubmitting it with the same claim isn’t any less false.”
Not content to just be right, Feingold’s team decided to fight back, pointing out that while Feingold wasn’t made aware of the Tomah VA issues in 2009, Ron Johnson’s office was made aware of similar specific issues in 2014, and they botched it. Johnson’s excuse for his office mishandling the information was that it was an election cycle and people were dealing with “job interviews and stuff.”
Yeah, that should make veterans feel better about where they are on Johnson’s priority list. File this one under #CantMakeThisStuffUp.