May 28th, 2014
07:32 AM ET
9 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.

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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

    "We have to first pass single payer because we can see what's in it... Yeah, we're going to fall for that one again!"

    Yeah, obviously nobody read it. That's why the GOP/Teatrolls had all those really specific talking points that referred to their favorite mischaracterizations of particular sections of the law and the systems it was setting up. Give up the ghost, dude...she was being facetious and nobody with a brain in their head believes any Conrgesscritter who claims they actually didn't read it or didn't have time to read it, etc. It's why they have staffs and why their staffs provide them with memos and summaries and explanations, etc. And would you like to explain where idiocy like "death panels" came from if somehow nobody knew anything about what was in it?

    May 28, 2014 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. The Real Tom Paine

    @ Donna, so, 42,000 Canadians merit your sympathy, but millions who had no insurance at all in this country until Obama passed the Heritage Foundations brainchild were not worth your time because you condemn them as leeches? Geez, so much for all that Christian compassion that flies out the window once the Preacher says " Amen". Funny how you can't or won't cite the source for your stats, yet you cling to them with such passion. Makes people suspect you are lying ( again).

    May 28, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Tommy G


    "You still haven't demonstrated how the VA is not a single payer government run system. "

    I don't need to. single payer is a vast spectrum of solutions. People aren't arguing for the entire country's health care system to turn into the VA, not even people arguing for single payer. To put it in simplified terms: The argument for single payer is not "VA for all," it's essentially "Medicare for all." If you can't tell the vast difference between those two things, which lie at almost opposite ends of the single payer spectrum, then we should just agree to disagree because you're yet again assigning an argument to everyone else just because it's easier for you to argue against that as opposed to what they're really saying.
    The Medicare Program is the second-largest social insurance program in the U.S., with 50.7 million beneficiaries and total expenditures of $574 billion in 2012.

    So Sniffit's solution is Medicare, a federal program that is already unsustainable and going bankrupt. Putting everybody into it would cost taxpayers $3.7 TRILLION A YEAR based on current expenditures. But let's say it would only be a paltry $2.5 TRILLION per year, where is all that money going to come from?

    May 28, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  4. Stuffitu

    It is both a shame and a blessing that democrat liberals still do not understand what TheTEA party is. They seem to think it is a monolithic thing like their own part. They don't understand that it is not controlled by a small group of corrupt unions, anti feminist hypocrites,and race gaiters like their own party, but is controlled by people who have seen the folly of an intrusive government and have banded together to fight those forces which are trying to polarize and destroy this country.

    May 28, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I do not take direction from anyone on here, so please don't imply that I do, or that others on here do as well."

    [ Excuse me for breaking in your comments to TP but, yeah. I've got to get this out of my mind before I set out to split my Hostas. ]

    I won't if you don't, tom I. 😉

    Other than that, I agree with you that the NRA is a huge problem in America, and has been for some time now.

    May 28, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. ART

    Who is this Donna and what rock did she crawl out from under with her " facts ". Ive got news for you Donna Rethugs don't believe in facts or truth

    May 28, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Donna

    Give it a rest with the medical tourism argument, Donna. Approximately 750,000 Americans travel abroad to obtain health care elsewhere every single year

    Are you serious??? Going to another country to get life saving medical treatment because you can't get it in your socialist medical system in time to save your life is NOT "medical tourism"! It is called medical desperation, something the veterans know about with their dealings with the VA.

    I cannot believe you would compare taking a vacation abroad and combining it with lower cost medical treatment to people trying to save their lives. Talk about total deceit.

    May 28, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    @stuffitu, you are actually describing the teaklans and their own ideas.
    Where have they been all these years, decades?
    The tea baggers were invented and paid for by the Koch brothers. It is NOT a grassroots organization. The only green is the billions that the kochs are wasting and they still can't buy elections.

    May 28, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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