LR businessman shills for insurance industry-funded attack ad | Arkansas Blog

LR businessman shills for insurance industry-funded attack ad

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FOLLOW THE MONEY: Insurance companies, not small businesses, underwrote this ad.
  • FOLLOW THE MONEY: Insurance companies, not small businesses, underwrote this ad.

Good story with local angle in the New York Times.

It's about a December TV ad slamming Obamacare and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

In the ad, John Parke of Democrat Printing and Lithographing Company in Little Rock says he's a small businessman hurt by Obamacare. The ad, doesn't provide specifics on how the federal Affordable Care Act affected Parke. But it does blame U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor for his woes. (Parke told the Democrat-Gazette that he couldn't explain. His insurance agent just blamed the increase on Obamacare.)

The lack of specifics is one shortcoming.. Another is that the ad is sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Business, self-styled as an advocate of small business but long a front for Republican and national chamber of commerce interests.  The New York Times has learned about the money behind the ad, particularl almost $1.6 million from American Health Insurance Plans.

But the largest chunk of the money donated to the nonprofit group’s advocacy came not from small-business owners, but rather from health insurance companies trying to repeal a health care tax, the most recently available federal tax records show.

...“If people who see this ad have no idea who is actually bankrolling it, they are in effect being misinformed,” said Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit that tracks the influence of money in politics.
...
For the viewers of the television advertisement in Arkansas, there would be no way to know that the message was actually paid for in part by health insurance companies, who are vehemently opposed to a tax on health care premiums that will cost insurers roughly $100 billion over the next decade.

In fact, Mr. Parke said in an interview, he was not told — and in retrospect, he said, he should have been.

“I was not aware of that,” said Mr. Parke, who is said he is a member of the N.F.I.B. “It is relevant to understanding who is sponsoring the message.”

The Koch brothers are also part of this coordinated attack, the Times reported. And, strictly speaking, because the ad lacks direct advocacy for a candidate, the ads are not considered political under the law. The groups that pay for them largely operate in secrecy granted certain types of nonprofit groups. These are the groups that are howling about IRS review of their political activities. Efforts to require more disclosure of these groups have been stymied.

Parke is a Republican who's run unsuccessfully for Arkansas House and is treasurer of the state GOP. His family has made a lot of money in the printing business.

The NFIB has continued its advocacy for Tom Cotton, Mark Pryor's foe, in other ways since December.



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