May 28th, 2014
07:32 AM ET
6 months ago

First on CNN: First major TV ad on VA scandal

Washington (CNN) -- The Veterans Affairs scandal's been a major issue on the campaign trail the past couple of weeks. Now it's front and center in the campaign ad wars.

Crossroads GPS, the non-profit sister organization to American Crossroads, a leading pro-GOP outside group which was co-founded and steered by Karl Rove, says that starting Wednesday it will start running a television commercial in Alaska that's critical of Sen. Mark Begich over his reaction to the growing controversy, which was first reported by CNN six months ago.

Begich is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election this year.

"A national disgrace. Veterans died waiting for care that never came. Senator Mark Begich sits on the Veterans Affairs Committee. His response? If there's a problem, they need to fix it. If there's a problem?" says the narrator in the spot, which is the first major ad to focus on the scandal.

"Four years ago, the VA's inspector general failed the Anchorage VA office in thirteen of fourteen areas. Now some Senators are blocking bipartisan legislation to shake up the VA and enforce accountability. Tell Senator Begich: when veterans are dying, it IS a problem," the narrator adds.

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

The group tells CNN that it will spend $450,000 to run the ad for one week. It's part of a $9.3 million late spring and summer ad buy announced last week by Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads (the super PAC) to run commercials in Alaska and three other crucial Senate races in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina. If the Republicans win back those four Democratic-held seats plus two more in this November's midterm elections, they would regain control of the Senate.

The Veterans Affairs controversy has mushroomed since CNN first reported last November on allegations of alarming shortcomings within the VA medical care system that potentially have had deadly consequences in dozens of cases.

The most disturbing and striking problems emerged in Arizona last month, with sources revealing to CNN details of a secret waiting list. According to the sources, at least 40 American veterans died in Phoenix while waiting for care at the VA there.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has come under pressure to resign from many Republican lawmakers and candidates, and even some Democratic senate and gubernatorial candidates. Shinseki said last week that he has not offered his resignation to President Barack Obama. The President last week made it clear he won't fire Shinseki – yet – but promised accountability.

The VA's troubled history

Begich, who sits on the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, is expected to visit a VA facility in Anchorage on Wednesday. Alaska's junior senator is calling on the VA to address the wait times for veterans seeking medical care by filling vacancies at clinics with public health officers.

Begich, who was first elected to the Senate in 2008, has so far this cycle faced a flood of critical TV ads put up by another pro-GOP outside group, Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the deep pockets of the billionaire industrialist brothers, David and Charles Koch.

Two weeks ago Crossroads reserved more than $5 million in ad time in Alaska from September 8 through October 26.

Earlier this cycle Crossroads went up with a spot in Alaska in support of former state attorney general Dan Sullivan, in his fight for the GOP nomination against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and conservative Joe Miller, the 2010 Republican Senate nominee.

The VA scandal is also in a new ad attacking another vulnerable Democratic, Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas. The spot by Rep. Tom Cotton, the GOP challenger in the race, hits Pryor for what it says is his inaction in dealing with the controversy.

"What did Mark Pryor do? Nothing," says the narrator in the on-line ad.

The most recent polls indicate that the two-term senator leads the freshman congressman and Iraq War vet.

Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states, like Alaska.


Filed under: 2014 • Alaska • American Crossroads • Crossroads GPS • Mark Begich • Senate • Senate Race
soundoff (108 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "NO EVIDENCE of any wrongdoing intentional or otherwise."

    But but but secret memos that have been destroyed by elephants in the strawberry patch!!! Because Benghazi!!!!!

    May 28, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    GOP is pretty much gone to dogs. They better think properly.

    May 28, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "I don't think I have heard any Obama Bashing by Republicans on this issue.

    Failing to pay attention again?

    May 28, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  4. Fed up

    Tampa Tim

    When will you RWNJs realize that Hannity is lying to you?
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    They probably will the same time you realize this administration is lying to you.

    May 28, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. smith1

    even VA organizations are outraged by the GOP and its head committee guy in the senate. The GOP has pretty much come out against vet's and now run this crap. Give us all a break. The GOP has blocked every funding bill presented and if veterans are not being seen on time part of it rest with the fact that the VA is under funded and understaffed. A direct result of the repo congress.Just like Benghazi they vote no on staffing and funding then blame others when the results come in.

    May 28, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  6. smith

    @Sniffit-For 2011 the stats were almost the same. 68% for firearms murders and 32% for non-firearm deaths. As far as my posting of members of congress serving, I just put up the facts. Sounds like the truth stings a bit.

    May 28, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  7. just asking

    TomInRochNY
    And, did the ad say that the GOP are the ones who usually cut funding for the VA, which is why the VA is having problems?
    -–
    blome Sarah blome
    Are the GOP/TP actually that stupid to vote to slash VA funding and to not expect problems? Never mind, no need into answering that.
    --

    this is how the democrats get into power. clueless fools like these two. va funding has tripled, yes tripled, since 2000. money is not the issue as the clueless lefties always think. the problem is you have doctors in the va seeing one patient in the same time a private doctor would see eight patients. it is called large wasteful lazy inefficient government run healthcare. just what the left wants to bring to all of us with obamacare and their single payer disaster.

    May 28, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Begich is considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators running for re-election this year."

    One of the most vulnerable ... but not to be confused with THE most vulnerable, eh, CNN?

    "The most recent polls indicate that the two-term senator leads the freshman congressman and Iraq War vet."

    Oh. Well, OK. That two-term senator is Begich .... (one of the most vulnerable blah blah blah).

    May 28, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Norman R

    Obama's great. Nothing to see hear. This is George Bush's fault.
    -Another Progressive Fraud

    May 28, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. What's it matter anyway?

    Can you say death panels? This is exactly what Obamacare will do to the rest of us as well. The elderly and super sick will be ignored and put on wait lists until they're not an issue anymore, just like the government ran VA. Oh but wait, the government knows what's best for us, so it's ok.

    May 28, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. Norman R

    Farm animals you say? The President you say? Videos?
    No, no, no! You have it all wrong. Obama's great. This is the Tea Party's fault.

    May 28, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Norman R

    I think at this point, if you aren't a completely in the tank Progressive, you have to ask yourself, if this doesn't constitute the failure of a President. What does?

    May 28, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. tom l

    I think the VA demonstrates just what a single payer system will look like. This is what happens when you get an unaccountable govt involved.

    May 28, 2014 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. rs

    Norman R

    Farm animals you say? The President you say? Videos?
    No, no, no! You have it all wrong. Obama's great. This is the Tea Party's fault.
    ______________________
    I won't say there are not things the President (this one or past) bear responsibility for, but the TEA Party does seem to think you can have government with no taxes, or worse actually believes we can operate without government at all. So, yes, those cats are flat wrong.

    May 28, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  15. rs

    tom l

    I think the VA demonstrates just what a single payer system will look like. This is what happens when you get an unaccountable govt involved.
    ____________________
    AND you underfund it.

    May 28, 2014 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    just asking
    TomInRochNY
    And, did the ad say that the GOP are the ones who usually cut funding for the VA, which is why the VA is having problems?
    -–
    blome Sarah blome
    Are the GOP/TP actually that stupid to vote to slash VA funding and to not expect problems? Never mind, no need into answering that.

    this is how the democrats get into power. clueless fools like these two. va funding has tripled, yes tripled, since 2000. money is not the issue as the clueless lefties always think. the problem is you have doctors in the va seeing one patient in the same time a private doctor would see eight patients. it is called large wasteful lazy inefficient government run healthcare. just what the left wants to bring to all of us with obamacare and their single payer disaster.

    **************
    So, we are to assume that a doctor in private practice is more efficient and effective than A VA doctor by the mere fact they are treating their patients in a private facility? Wow, problem solved, I guess. While we're at it, lets pay the doctor by performing chores at their homes. Its this kind of simple-minded answers that are devoid of either reason or experience that keep the Right in the place they have earned, as a sideshow of freaks.

    May 28, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. rs

    What's it matter anyway?

    Can you say death panels? This is exactly what Obamacare will do to the rest of us as well. The elderly and super sick will be ignored and put on wait lists until they're not an issue anymore, just like the government ran VA. Oh but wait, the government knows what's best for us, so it's ok.
    _____________________
    The significant difference are:
    1. Medicine is for profit in this nation (excluding the VA). If there is a market for more health care, it will be there.
    2. Our (civilian) health care is through corporations.
    3.It's the GOP that sees people as problems, not the left. You know, there are too many poor- so instead of growing the economy, or helping them, we'll cut welfare and give the rich tax cuts.

    May 28, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. Tommy G

    These very same practices were exposed and made public many years ago which is why Obama is on video tape saying he was going to fix it, which he never did. They interviewed a top person at the GAO that testified before Congress, then a bill was passed and Obama signed it but then nothing was ever done by his incompetent administration. Vets die from a fraud and nobody gets so much as a slap on the wrist. Heck, some of these people were getting BONUSES while they were killing the vets. People that did this for personal financial gain SHOULD GO TO JAIL. But as with all the other Obama administrations disasters, the guilty will be promoted.

    May 28, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  19. Sniffit

    "@Sniffit-For 2011 the stats were almost the same. 68% for firearms murders and 32% for non-firearm deaths. As far as my posting of members of congress serving, I just put up the facts. Sounds like the truth stings a bit."

    The stats I cited are correct. Give it up smith. You're citing stats measuring things in a slightly different manner. Apples and crabapples are still different. And besides, it doesn't change the overarching point: when homicides are so overwhelmingly accomplished via a certain instrumentality, that instrumentality should be the one we are most focused on.

    May 28, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  20. spike1234

    Remember that Obama held up the VA as a shining example of the promise of Obamacare. We also find out that Obamacare has some perverse incentives in section3025 that will result in hospitals shoving the elderly out the door. You just cannot make this stuff up. This is the most disgusting, sickening administration ever.

    May 28, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  21. rs

    Norman R

    I think at this point, if you aren't a completely in the tank Progressive, you have to ask yourself, if this doesn't constitute the failure of a President. What does?
    _______________________
    Which party in Congress failed to fund the VA's expansion to handle the quadrupled number of vets needing health care? Why, that would be the GOP.
    The President cannot pass laws, nor spend money from a non-existent budget.

    May 28, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "I think the VA demonstrates just what a single payer system will look like. "

    Which just highlights how very very little you understand about the health care system and/or how very very willing you are to mischaracterize things in order to square-peg-round-hole them into your ideological framework.

    May 28, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  23. Tom l

    rs,

    Weren't you just last week complaining about politicizing and campaigning off of the deaths in Benghazi and now you make comments like you do on the board completely politicizing THIS (just like you did with the Santa Barbara shooter)?? How does that make you any less political. Dude, the VA issue has been going on for decades. This is a failure of both sides yet you want to place blame on only one side. Pathetic in very way. You should be ashamed of yourself for doing the very thing you rightfully complained about last week.

    May 28, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  24. Robert Price Rifkin

    It was inevitable. Smarmy politicians would have to start using the travails and suffering of our veterans for their own purposes. And here it is. Look in the mirror, guys. Aren't you really proud of yourselves?

    May 28, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. Sniffit

    "As far as my posting of members of congress serving, I just put up the facts. Sounds like the truth stings a bit.""

    Why would it sting? The breakdown is true and by itself somewhat meaningless. However, the inference you're trying to get people to draw by citing that breakdown is not true. I simply pointed out that it happens to work the opposite of the inference you wish people to draw: the GOP/Teatrolls have a higher % of people who served in congress and yet they're the ones consistently voting on legislation that harms servicemembers or blocks necessary funding for them. You clearly had no substantive counterargument so you resorted to snide nonsense.

    May 28, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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