MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A tough new television ad from Republican Congressman Erik Paulsen calls his Democratic challenger Dean Phillips “dishonest” for not providing health care coverage for some of his workers.

But is that claim true?

Paulsen makes this sharply-negative attack against Phillips, who has made health care a focus of his campaign.

Here is the text of the ad in full, before we break it down:

Who is Dean Phillips? He’s a businessman who really inherited his millions. Phillips repeatedly failed to pay his business taxes on time, time after time. Even worse, Phillips claims health care is a moral right, but he didn’t provide it to workers at his coffee shop because he said he wouldn’t make money. Now he lying to cover it all up. That’s dishonest Dean Phillips, another shady businessman who’d make things worse.

dean phillips attack ad against erik paulsen Reality Check: The 3rd District’s Ugly Campaign Ad War

(credit: Dean Phillips For Congress/YouTube)

First, this claim: “Phillips claims health care is a moral right, but he didn’t provide it to workers at his coffee shop because he said he wouldn’t make money.”

What Paulsen says is TRUE. It is based on Phillips’ comments in a 2017 Forbes Magazine article declaring health care “a moral right.” He was asked this straightforward question in the article: “Does the coffee shop you’ve started offer health insurance?”

Dean Phillips’ answer:

No, we don’t. We are contemplating a pretty significant expansion, which would necessitate a reinvestigation of that, but right now, we’re just a single coffee shop with a handful of employees, and that’s something we’ll assess moving forward. But the ACA afforded opportunities to employees like ours to actually go out and obtain health insurance.

Penny’s Coffee, like most companies, does not provide health benefits to part-time workers, but they are paid $15 an hour plus tips to help them buy insurance through exchanges. The company now has full-time workers, and all of them get health care.

Another claim: “Phillips repeatedly failed to pay his business taxes on time, time after time.”

This is TRUE, but here is some context. Phillips owned an ice cream factory in Cobb County, Georgia, which paid taxes between two-weeks and 60-days late in 2012 and 2013. The company paid late interest: $89.

Meanwhile, Phillips is quickly responding to Paulsen’s charges with a television ad of his own, accusing Paulsen of not only not telling the truth, but of a conflict of interest.

Here is the text of the ad in full:

I’m Dean Phillips, and Erik Paulsen is saying I don’t offer health care to our workers. Well he’s not telling you the truth, and it won’t be the last time he does that in a TV ad. Just like we did at Phillips Distilling and Talenti Gelato, we do offer healthcare to full-time employees, no thanks to Erik Paulsen, though. He’s taken millions from insurance and drug companies, while voting to take away affordable healthcare and get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions. I approve this message because our campaign is about changing Washington, and everyone’s invited.

Here’s one claim: “He’s taken millions from insurance and drug companies, while voting to take away affordable health care and get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions.”

It is TRUE that Paulsen has accepted millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the insurance and pharmaceutical industry. In his Congressional career, Paulsen has accepted $1,264,378 from the insurance industry and $1,144,379 from the pharmaceutical industry. But there is no way to prove that influenced Paulsen’s more than 60 votes to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

Minnesota’s 3rd District race is among the most competitive in the country. Political analysts consider it a toss-up that could go either way.

Here Are Some Of The Sources We used For This Reality Check:

Paulsen Ad: “Moral Right”

Phillips Ad: “Truth”

Forbes Magazine

Phillips For Congress Heath Policy Plan 1

Phillips For Congress Heath Policy Plan 2

Newsweek: Number of Attempts to Repeal and Replace ObamaCare

BLS: Part Time Workers With Health Benefits

Center For Responsive Politics: Paulsen Finance Summary

2018 House Ratings

Pat Kessler

Comments (2)
  1. Ha ha ha. Here’s a propaganda machine pretending to be an unbiased news outlet. Yea right, truth labeled “Ugly War”

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