Mark Kelly, a Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona, has repeatedly avoided taking a position on Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) "Medicare for all" bill, but the political action committee whose support he touted has made the issue one of their top priorities.
The End Citizens United PAC created a petition to pressure Democrats to support "Medicare for all," and on Monday Kelly celebrated getting their endorsement. He praised them for being a "powerful voice for getting big and secret money out of politics and putting control back in the hands of the people."
.@StopBigMoney has been a powerful voice for getting big and secret money out of politics and putting control back in the hands of the people, and I'm glad to have their support. pic.twitter.com/FuAV5y5F9p
— Captain Mark Kelly (@CaptMarkKelly) April 15, 2019
While End Citizens United primarily focused on getting money out of politics, they have also publicly supported political issues, including "Medicare for all." On their website, they ask Democrats to "demand Congress pass Medicare for All."
"Bernie Sanders is about to introduce Medicare for All!" the website reads. "But Republicans will do anything to stop us, so we need every Democrat to take a stand right now."
As recently as last week, Kelly was asked whether he supports the plan, prompting him to dodge the question and instead provide a generic response about health care rights in the United States.
"I think everybody has a right, as a country as wealthy as ours, we should be able to provide affordable health care that people are going to be able to get if they're sick, if they have a preexisting condition like this young son of this mother, that they're not going to lose if they later get sick, and they're not going to reach some cap and they get kicked off of. We should be able to do that in an effective way," Kelly said.
The Intercept and the Arizona Capitol Times both have noted how Kelly has been cautious not to explicitly support "Medicare for all." The Capitol Times said Kelly "balked" at the single-payer, or "Medicare for all" question.
"I don’t know," he said. "I’m going to have to figure this out over time."
In addition to the healthcare issue, End Citizens United's endorsement of Kelly follows Rep. Ruben Gallego's (D., Ariz.) criticism of Kelly, slamming him for breaking his "no corporate PAC money" pledge and having ties to special interests.
Gallego, who recently decided not to run against Kelly in Arizona's Democratic primary to challenge Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.), voiced his concerns over the hypocrisy of Kelly's previous corporate speaking gigs during an interview with the Intercept.
"It’s kind of weird, though, to say you’re not taking corporate PAC money, but then also directly taking corporate PAC money into your personal account," Gallego said. "I don’t understand why even take that pledge if you’re not personally living that."
Some of the corporate speaking gigs were sponsored by Goldman Sachs, Optum, and Mortgage Bankers Association, according to the Intercept:
In 2017, he and his brother, Scott, were the keynote speakers at the annual forum for Optum, a $100 billion subsidiary of UnitedHealth, the country’s largest health insurance company. Earlier that year, he and Scott spoke at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit in the Cayman Islands. An event also attended heavily by hedge fund and private equity executives, the summit is "a not-for-profit event dedicated to supporting financial services both in the Cayman Islands and internationally."
In 2016, Kelly and his brother addressed the annual convention of the Mortgage Bankers Association in Boston, where Megyn Kelly was the keynote speaker. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Quicken Loans were among the event’s sponsors. He also spoke at the group’s 2014 National Mortgage Servicing Conference in Orlando.
He and his brother gave the keynote address at the 2016 annual ThoughtSpot conference hosted by Good Neighbor Pharmacy and AmerisourceBergen, a pharmaceutical company currently under federal investigation for its relation to opioids and drug diversion.