May 28th, 2014
07:32 AM ET
7 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.

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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. smith

    Only 29% of current GOP members of congress have served in the military and less than 1% of current Dem congress members have served. Hopefully, these folks can show the same duty and honor now and push the rest into action to make positive changes in the VA system.

    May 28, 2014 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  2. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Yep this all just started under this administration....

    If people are dumb enough to believe the do nothing but whine, obstruct and lie GOP and still vote for them, they'll get just what they deserve. What exactly can the GOP run on? They've done nothing but obstruct, lie, bad mouth the POTUS and sympathize with our enemies since January 2009. They're no more than traitors to the USA.

    May 28, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  3. 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?

    May 28, 2014 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  4. WOW

    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.

    Please cite where VA has been cut? Thank you.

    May 28, 2014 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  5. bill

    the house passed a bill to help vets get the medical treatment they need and REID SITS ON IT-the house united on this and REID AGAIN STOPS THE HELP WE NEED FOR OUR VETS. Why doesn't reid want to help our vets instead of stopping every bill that could help?????

    May 28, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  6. Carol Hetherington

    What kind of moral character does a member of Congress have who demands that Secretary Shinseki be fired before the facts are known on the VA?

    CNN John King doesn’t know-breaking news is not about the VA it’s about the deviant low moral standard of some member of the US Congress.

    May 28, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. Jay Dee

    Despite the lies of the left, the GOP has not slashed the VA budget. In fact, GW Bush DOUBLED it's budget and the VA has been running a surplus since. And now the VA has more money than it will spend on healthcare for the 5th year in a row, yet there are waitlists. These are FACTS.

    May 28, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  8. turd cruzin

    Out of all the gop campaign ads, not one has so much as mentioned their accomplishments, not one, they will try to win with lies and accusations, what is this country coming to? They cut VA funding then blame the Democrats, just like benghazi, simply disgusting people, always looking for someone who has no idea what the truth is, and is foolish enough to believe them. The gop has been promising relief for the working class for years, and yet nothing! Year after year of empty promises, and you rwnj continue to vote for them, your life continues to get worse, here's your sign!

    May 28, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. turd cruzin

    Bill, just as simple as that huh? Maybe do some research on what else is in the bill, a bunch of stuff they would never get passed and they know it. You can deny that the gop wants yo destroy our country, but an objective assessment proves otherwise. They take opportunities like this feed you lies, don't think so, why did they change rule 59 on the Eve of the government default? To make absolutely certain the shutdown happens, tell me why else would they do that, there is no other reason, the tea party told them too, they threaten to primary them, and they immediately fall in line, and you call the dems sheep.

    May 28, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  10. turd cruzin

    JD, lmao, your not serious? A surplus, you sir are a sucker, you think you can recite one statistic taken by itself, it is not telling the whole story, you can't and make the gop look good . You think he started a war because he was lied to, get a clue already, your party hates you, will destroy your standard of living and you pay them to do it, and vote them in to do it again, pure genius I say!

    May 28, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |

    There is a Dr. shortage folks and its just going to get worse now . And i think most of us here knows the reason if THEY will only admit the reason . PPL will die waiting on a not so ACa Dr even if they can pay a 8000 dollar or more or less deductible a tax or fine whatever ?

    May 28, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  12. jboh

    Congress is supposed to fix problems, not political blame. TEA/GOP bashing of President Obama on this issue is political fraud. The facts say this problem is not new, and ALL parties have dirty hands. TEA/GOP, do your jobs and put fixing the problem before throwing blame, which falls equally on your heads, to score cheap political points. Our vets should be a higher priority than your party.

    May 28, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. Norman R


    DESPITE THE GROWING SCANDAL over secret wait lists at the Department of Veterans Affairs, the agency, headed by Eric Shinseki, left, expects to have more money for medical care than it can spend for the fifth year in a row.

    May 28, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Even the brain dead followers of Fox should be able to search to find that the republicans denied VA funding and Turtle headed a republican filibuster against funding in the senate. Republicans offer no solutions, but sure can fundraise off the crises they create.

    May 28, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. Farrok

    Untold money for the Afghanis; 20,000,000,000 Billion dollars for a hand out for them? And our wounded and injured Veterans die for want of medical care? I don't know what has happened to America but it is turning into a shadow of what it once was.

    May 28, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  16. Steve

    The Republicans try to make political hay out of everything bad that happens to the USA. They have NO honor.

    May 28, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Sniffit

    "@Sniffit-In 2012 the FBI website has 69% firearm related homicides and 31% homicides by other means. Those are most updated and complete numbers to date. I have no idea where you pulled your numbers from but once again they are wrong."

    Sigh. They weren't wrong. They were for 2011 (which I clearly stated) because that was the first I found via Google. Citing 2012 and telling me it proves 2011 stats wrong is ridiculous.

    May 28, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  18. Tampa Tim

    The house passed a three page superficial bill to make it easier to fire people in the VA. That is hardly a solution to decades of problems. It is time for our overpaid senators and representatives to do something for our vets.

    May 28, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. rs

    Scandal? Really? There is, once again, NO EVIDENCE of any wrongdoing intentional or otherwise. Sure, the VA can do better, but to call this scandal (especially when the GOP peeled back funding and rejected the building of 28 new facilities as "too expensive"), this is just what it smells like- yet another GOP fundraising trick with an added dose of political gaming thrown in.
    The GOP doesn't care about vets- shoot, it would make their day to actually destroy the one popular, functioning piece of socialism in America- the VA.

    May 28, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. rs


    the house passed a bill to help vets get the medical treatment they need and REID SITS ON IT-the house united on this and REID AGAIN STOPS THE HELP WE NEED FOR OUR VETS. Why doesn't reid want to help our vets instead of stopping every bill that could help?????
    The GOP voted down the bill for an expanded VA and 28 new facilities- please use facts!

    May 28, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  21. Sniffit

    "Only 29% of current GOP members of congress have served in the military and less than 1% of current Dem congress members have served."

    Your intended implication, i.e., that Dem members of congress somehow care less because about veterans because less of them have served themselves, is somewhat odd in light of it being the GOP/Teatrolls, with their higher percentage of those who've served, who consistently blocks funding.

    May 28, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. rs

    Really, did anyone expect anything less from the VA? Their budget did go up around 80% in the last decade, but the GOP's oil wars quadrupled the number of vets needing health care. Just more bad planning from the Right- you know, intentionally break government then point fingers.

    May 28, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  23. Gunderson

    Well, "Experts",
    I don't think I have heard any Obama Bashing by Republicans on this issue. Maybe it is just like the IRS Issue, a big misunderstanding. For all you Slackers, it isn't up to the Government to carry your water. You want something done, the Constitution gives you the right to do it yourself. Don't expect the Republicans to do it for you. It's your responsibility Your Liberal buddies want to screw the real Tax payers and give it to you. Sorry. We are out of real money.

    May 28, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  24. Tampa Tim

    When will you RWNJs realize that Hannity is lying to you?

    May 28, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  25. Sniffit

    Someone 501(c)(4) status needs a good close look.

    May 28, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
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