Outside Groups Target Rahall
Gutman, David, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)
Eleven months before the 2014 elections, at least four national organizations have begun ad campaigns targeting Rep. Nick Rahall, D- W.Va.
The ads, paid for by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Action Network, Americans for Prosperity and the American Energy Alliance, target Rahall for his support of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and his perceived support of a carbon tax.
Rahall has said repeatedly he does not support a carbon tax.
"It's a shame West Virginians have to go through this a year before the election, but that's not my choice," Rahall said in a phone interview Thursday.
The Chamber of Commerce ad is the only one of the three that does not specifically mention Rahall, instead endorsing his likely opponent, state Sen. Evan Jenkins.
"Evan knows Obamacare is a mess, and is getting worse every single day. Jobs at risk. Health -care premiums rising. West Virginia can't afford Obamacare. It's time for a change," the ad says, over ominous music and a black-and-white backdrop of Washington landmarks.
The Chamber is buying more than $105,000 in airtime for the ad, the Associated Press reported.
The Chamber also released an ad supporting Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in her campaign for U.S. Senate.
The U.S. Chamber spent about $35.7 million on the 2012 elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The ads supporting Jenkins and Capito appear to be a rarity, as the Chamber used less than 10 percent of its 2012 spending on ads supporting individual candidates. It spent a far greater amount of money - $28 million - on ads opposing Democratic candidates.
"These ads make clear Nick Rahall can no longer mislead West Virginians about his support for Obamacare and a coal-killing carbon tax," Jenkins said in an email statement.
The American Action Network also targeted Rahall for his support of the ACA. In November, the group sent a series of mailings to seniors in Southern West Virginia. The mailings say, "Congressman Nick Rahall and Obamacare mean higher health care costs.
"Medical costs that were already increasing too fast are now going up even faster - 33 percent faster than before," one mailing said.
But the mailings offer no source for that figure or any of the other figures they cite.
Data released in September by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimate that since 2010, health spending, per capita, has been growing at just 1.3 percent annually, the lowest rate since 1960.
"The growth rate from 2010 to 2013 is, in fact historically unprecedented," a White House analysis of the data said. "From the time this data series begins in the 1960s to the present, no earlier three-year period saw a lower growth rate."
In an email, Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the American Action Network, cited an Associated Press article that said health care spending is expected to increase by 33 percent next year as millions of people are expected to gain coverage to Medicaid or private insurance through the ACA.
The article did not address per capita spending or health- care costs and said that over the long term the ACA's impact on total health spending would be more modest.
"From 2012 to 2022, the new law is projected to add about 0.1 percent to average annual health spending growth," the article said.
Davis said that AAN spent $65,000 on the advertising campaign.
American Action Network is a 501(c)(4) organization, meaning it is a nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors but cannot spend more than 50 percent of its money on politics.
It shares office space with Crossroads GPS/American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC founded by Karl Rove. …