May 28th, 2014
07:32 AM ET
5 years 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. spike1234

    Don't give me the funding excuse. VA funding has gone up 33% since OB got into office. The GOP controls congress and the funding increase would not have passed if congress did not let it pass. Do you know there are bonus formulas used to reward VA employees who are part of decreased wait times. Can't reduce the wait times, well then let's cook the books, just like this admin does with every other number it issues. Keep pumping out the lies. I believe that 47% of Americans still have an insatiable appetite for that.

    May 28, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. ProudDem

    Well this is just stupid. Like because he sits on the committee he was responsible for hospitals in Phoenix reporting bogus numbers to the administration.

    May 28, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. FLIndy

    It's bad enough they use the Benghazi deaths for fundraising, but this is a new low using our veterans' deaths. The Repub party has lost its way; they will do anything it takes to regain power. This Independent will never vote for a Repub or Tea Partier as long as they continue on the path they've been on since President Obama took office. They are one pathetic party and Karl Rove should have been behind bars long ago.

    May 28, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  4. Genie

    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. affordable used cars dealers in houston

    May 28, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. smith

    @sniffit-I just put a fact, which you don`t like or you wouldn`t be making up conspiracy theories.

    May 28, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Tommy G

    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.
    --

    And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this. Just more of your stock in trade, insults and mindless gibberish. Why? Because you know it is true and don't have the facts, and reality, on your side. Honestly, I don't know why the CNN moderators continue to post your useless garbage.

    May 28, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  7. Sniffit

    "@sniffit-I just put a fact, which you don`t like or you wouldn`t be making up conspiracy theories."

    What conspiracy theory? It's what the right does all the time. take the debt for example. They love to run around citing how much debt accumulated while Obama was president. It's a fact...sure...but the clear implication they are trying to get across is that it's Obama's policies that caused it to accumulate, as "evidenced" by it accumulating "under his watch." Start looking under the hood at the policies that are actually causing the debt to accumulate and bring them into the conversation and suddenly the GOPers/Teatrolls are yelling and screaming and talking over you with trite talking points about "no accountability" and "blaming Bush." Well, those are facts too...the numbers don't lie...but they suddenly don't want any facts talked about when they become inconvenient to the inference they wanted people to draw from an only partial rendition of the facts. You were doing the same thing. Arguing otherwise is silly when I've seen plenty of righties out there yammering exactly what you did in reference to the VA problems...trying to get people to draw the inference that the GOP/Teatrolls care more about veterans because more of them in Congress served in the military...or that they should be trusted to fix the problem more than Dems should be, because more of them served in the military. I pointed out the facts that contradict that and, just like the GOP/Teatrolls do when someone points out the policies that actually are causing the debt to increase, you go upset, shut down and resorted to ad hominem. There's no conspiracy theory here: the GOP/Teatrolls have blocked funding. That's a fact, not a conspiracy theory....and it's not a terribly convenient fact for your inference that they're to be trusted more simply because they have more former servicemembers in Congress.

    May 28, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  8. Gunderson

    STUFFY!!,
    When you put yourself out on a limb there is danger of crashing to the ground! We have had the New Deal, The Great Society, and, We are the one we are waiting for. Now which one do you want to hold up as a Shining Example? The result is what? Everything is all well along the Watch Tower? If so why is everything going to Hell in a Hand Basket? We have been doing things YOUR WAY the last 100 years. So let's look at a few of the Results. High Unemployment, 50 million on Food Stamps, Mortgages under water, Huge National Debt, the 29 Hour Work Week, etc, etc, etc. Communisim was a Smashing Success in the old Soviet Union. Such a success it doesn't exist anymore. So why do you want to Re-Invent it here? Soon the 1930's will look like Utopia.

    May 28, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. smith

    @Sniffit-What conspiracy theory? Read your own comment #22

    May 28, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. PaulCat

    GOP should be ashame of themselves !!!!!!!!!!!
    Is there anything you wouldn't campaign on – in the name of money ??????????

    May 28, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  11. Fed up

    Tommy G

    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.
    -

    And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this. Just more of your stock in trade, insults and mindless gibberish. Why? Because you know it is true and don't have the facts, and reality, on your side. Honestly, I don't know why the CNN moderators continue to post your useless garbage.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Tommy – I couldn't agree more with your post. I am shocked at some of the garbage they let through from this individual.

    May 28, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    well, its sad that this is being used as a fundraising appeal, but I guess there are no limits on decency anymore. When the Right considers it ok to take photos of a woman with dementia until they are caught, I guess there are not real limits on decency.

    May 28, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. The Real Tom Paine

    -Fed up
    Tommy G

    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.

    And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this. Just more of your stock in trade, insults and mindless gibberish. Why? Because you know it is true and don't have the facts, and reality, on your side. Honestly, I don't know why the CNN moderators continue to post your useless garbage.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Tommy – I couldn't agree more with your post. I am shocked at some of the garbage they let through from this individual.
    **********************
    I've seen the horrific lies that you, Tommy, and others have slipped past people. Please confine your outrage to your echo chambers.

    May 28, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    Gunderson
    STUFFY!!,
    When you put yourself out on a limb there is danger of crashing to the ground! We have had the New Deal, The Great Society, and, We are the one we are waiting for. Now which one do you want to hold up as a Shining Example? The result is what? Everything is all well along the Watch Tower? If so why is everything going to Hell in a Hand Basket? We have been doing things YOUR WAY the last 100 years. So let's look at a few of the Results. High Unemployment, 50 million on Food Stamps, Mortgages under water, Huge National Debt, the 29 Hour Work Week, etc, etc, etc. Communisim was a Smashing Success in the old Soviet Union. Such a success it doesn't exist anymore. So why do you want to Re-Invent it here? Soon the 1930's will look like Utopia.
    ***************
    Keep rewriting history, Gundy. Its really quite funny.

    May 28, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  15. Sniffit

    "Can you say death panels?"

    Most of us stopped talking baby talk around age 2.

    "The elderly and super sick will be ignored and put on wait lists until they're not an issue anymore"

    They weren't already by private insurers? Oh yeah, that's right...they were. In fact, the "waiting list" for the elderly and sick was essentially forever, i.e., "you're uninsurable and we won't insure you," so we had to create programs like Medicare and SS to cover that problem. Do you truly understand nothing about our health care systems and their history?

    May 28, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  16. AlbaMN

    Disgusting. Fixing this problem should be a bipartisan effort and using it for political gain is insulting to the veterans and families who have been so horribly affected!

    May 28, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. tom l

    @The Real TP,
    Do you honestly believe that the right is the only one to campaign off of tragic events? You are far too reasonable to not recognize that the left has done this time and again with any mass shooting. Case in point is just this week where not one proposed law would have prevented the idiot from doing what he did – not to mention he's in California where the gun legislation is far stricter than any federal laws that would be put in place. Yet dems consistently raise money off of these shootings. Neither side has any decency. Hopefully, at some point you will realize that the politicians on the left are just as awful and have just as little morals.

    May 28, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  18. Sniffit

    "And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this. Just more of your stock in trade, insults and mindless gibberish. Why? Because you know it is true and don't have the facts, and reality, on your side. Honestly, I don't know why the CNN moderators continue to post your useless garbage."

    Because it's that obvious, champ. Single payer is not the same as the VA system. No conceptualization of it really is. I shouldn't have to and won't explain that to you. Instead, you should go inform yourself as to what a single payer system might actually look like and what the VA system actually looks like, so you can understand how they differ. Had you understood any of it, rather than just listening to extremely superficial fear mongering and broken analogies from the likes of Limbaugh and Rove, who see this as a convenient way of taking your ignorance and turning it into political capital, you would never have made the comparison in the first place.

    May 28, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  19. Donna

    The Real Tom Paine
    well, its sad that this is being used as a fundraising appeal, but I guess there are no limits on decency anymore. When the Right considers it ok to take photos of a woman with dementia until they are caught, I guess there are not real limits on decency.
    --

    But the Democrats and left using every shooting in the USA to attack law abiding gun owners and raise money is just fine and dandy with you. Please enough of the lies and hypocrisy.

    May 28, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  20. Sniffit

    "And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this.

    I don't need to when you've offered ZERO logical, rational, fact-based arguments to support your argument in the first place. "The VA is run by the gubmint, so single payer would be the same" is not a rational, fact-based, cogent argument. It's a broken analogy without any analysis of the actual structure of either system to back it up. It's convenient, superficial talking point word salad that "sounds good" because it plays to the fact that neither you, nor the people you target with such claptrap, have any understanding of what you're talking about.

    May 28, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  21. tom l

    Single Payer System: The term "single-payer" thus only describes the funding mechanism—referring to health care financed by a single public body from a single fund—and does not specify the type of delivery, or for whom doctors work. The actual funding of a "single payer" system comes from all or a portion of the covered population. Although the fund holder is usually the state, some forms of single-payer use a mixed public-private system.

    How does this definition differ from the VA? And, perhaps for once, you can stop throwing out the "Rush Limbaugh" line. As you said earlier, you don't read mother jones (even though your comment was verbatim from the article on Mother Jones) so why do you assume that everyone that has a conservative or "non-liberal" point of view only gets their information from Rush Limbaugh? Again, you are not very self aware. You don't like when someone makes that claim on you yet you make that claim of others.

    May 28, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Case in point is just this week where not one proposed law would have prevented the idiot from doing what he did "

    Deflection. Whether one particular instance would have been avoided doesn't mean that others wouldn't. You can't even say that something like a longer delay in his ability to get his hands on the firearms he used wouldn't have changed his course of conduct, particularly in light of just how erratic his behavior and thoughts were. Anyway, the point is not whether a particular instance could have been prevented, so pushing that conclusion is irrelevant and it doesn't require a counterargument to disprove it (particularly since you provide no argument in the first place...you just regurgitate the NRA talking point that they spew in response to every single one of these incidents regardless of the particular facts). The point is that by making it more difficult for the wrong people to get the weapons, more easy for law enforcement to track the weapons and who (supposedly) owns them, etc., it decreases the likelihood of these incidents happening. Will it stop them all? No. Will it stop some that otherwise would have happened? Yes.

    May 28, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. Tommy G

    Sniffit
    -–
    "And yet you offer not one logical counter argument to this. Just more of your stock in trade, insults and mindless gibberish. Why? Because you know it is true and don't have the facts, and reality, on your side. Honestly, I don't know why the CNN moderators continue to post your useless garbage."
    --
    Because it's that obvious, champ. Single payer is not the same as the VA system. No conceptualization of it really is. I shouldn't have to and won't explain that to you. Instead, you should go inform yourself as to what a single payer system might actually look like and what the VA system actually looks like, so you can understand how they differ. Had you understood any of it, rather than just listening to extremely superficial fear mongering and broken analogies from the likes of Limbaugh and Rove, who see this as a convenient way of taking your ignorance and turning it into political capital, you would never have made the comparison in the first place.
    -–

    Oh come on! MORE blather??? Come out and explain to your adoring fans just how the VA system is different than a single payer system. Government paid for healthcare, with government dictated rules for treatment, with government dictated costs. Hospitals, drugs, people all under government control via dictated costs and procedures. You can CLAIM they are not government owned and run, but they ARE when they are regulated and controlled by politicians, their laws and the 50,000 pages of rules and regulations they spawn, not including the hundreds of Boards and Agencies they spawn.

    If it works so great everywhere else, like Canada and the UK, why do many there come HERE for the treatment they cannot get in their own country?

    Your single payer fantasy is a sham, just like Obamacare.

    May 28, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  24. bobo

    Its not about money.... its the leadership! This whole VA scandal is exactly how the Government runs things...... well guess what? Obamacare will be the same!

    May 28, 2014 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    @Tommy G: "If it works so great everywhere else, like Canada and the UK, why do many there come HERE for the treatment they cannot get in their own country?"

    Why do people in 17 other countries with single-payer systems have better medical outcomes than ours while spending less per patient?

    May 28, 2014 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
1 2 3 4 5