2020 Election

Pelosi-Tied Super PAC Targets Republican with Misleading Health Care Ad

Ex-govt. worker attacks Barr despite being on plan administered by the state

Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.) / Getty Images

A new ad from a liberal super PAC misleadingly accuses Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.) of working to raise the cost of a state employee health care plan.

VoteVets, a Democratic outside group closely tied to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), released an ad Tuesday featuring Kentucky resident Mike Razor. In the ad, Razor blames Barr and "big pharma" for his rising insurance costs, saying "they're just going to make me pay more."

Razor, however, is a former employee of the state's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, a 2019 Facebook post shows. He has discussed his enrollment in the Kentucky Employees' Health Plan, which is "run by public employees, for public employees," according to its website.

That makes his health care a state issue, not a national one, as he acknowledged in a November 2019 Facebook post.

VoteVets has used large contributions from Democratic leaders and progressive megadonors—including $533,000 from Pelosi's House Majority PAC—to spend nearly $25 million backing Democrats in the 2020 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

While the super PAC typically runs military-centered ads, it has recently flooded the airwaves with health care-related spots in contentious House districts across the country. Its all-Republican targets include Barr, retired Green Beret Nick Freitas (Va.), and decorated combat veteran Sean Parnell (Pa.).

VoteVets did not return a request for comment.

Barr defeated Amy McGrath, now a Democratic Senate nominee, for the congressional seat by roughly 3 points in 2018 and is now facing a challenge from trial lawyer Josh Hicks.

While Razor has yet to contribute to Hicks's campaign, he has donated to Democrats in the past. Recipients include McGrath, the Biden Victory Fund, the Kentucky Democratic Party, and Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign.

The Tuesday ad is not the first time Razor has used health care as a political weapon against Republicans, having previously criticized former Kentucky governor Matt Bevin. Razor accused the Republican of siphoning money away from the state's health care fund in 2019.

"The state is self insured and pays Anthem to manage it. Our healthcare fund is so flush with money that Bevin is robbing it of millions to fund our retirement," Razor wrote in a Facebook comment. "With the state it should [be a] break even deal. Our out of pocket and deductibles are outrageous."

Razor retired from his role with the state in 2015, according to his social media posts. Kentucky's 2020 employee health care manual states that retirees become ineligible for the plan when reaching the age of 65. Razor has not yet met that threshold, public records show.

VoteVets has spent nearly $250,000 backing Hicks in the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The Democrat has also accepted $7,500 in direct contributions from the super PAC in 2020, campaign finance disclosures show.

Despite the group's support, Hicks has trailed Barr financially throughout the race, raising $2.6 million to the Republican's $4.2 million. Hicks held roughly $165,000 on hand as of October 14, compared with Barr's nearly $1.2 million.