EXCLUSIVE: GOPer Ernst Backed Arresting Feds Over Obamacare In 2012 Survey

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October 3, 2014 11:58 a.m.

State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa, once said she would support legislation that would allow “local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement” Obamacare.

Ernst voiced her support for that, as well as supporting legislation that would “nullify” Obamacare in a Iowa State Legislative Candidates survey for Ron Paul’s libertarian-aligned Campaign for Liberty in 2012. It can be viewed here.

The question was: “Will you support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare?” Ernst answered that question as “yes.”

Campaign for Liberty Communications Director Megan Stiles told TPM on Friday that the “yes” answer is what the group is looking for in candidates. Stiles, however, cautioned that the group does not endorse candidates.

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“States nullifying federal laws is one way of a check on the balance of federal power,” Stiles said. “So that’s an additional way to fight Obamacare. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Ideally though, Campaign for Liberty is looking for candidates that sponsor legislation (hence the +/- option on the survey).

Stiles, who wasn’t with the the Campaign for Liberty in 2012, said she would have to get back to TPM on how arrests would be made. She said it would depend on whether what’s being implemented is a state run or federal run healthcare exchange.

“The general idea is that if leaders in the state don’t want to participate in Obamacare then they would nullify the law —as another check on federal power,” Stiles said.

TPM asked Stiles exactly how arrests of federal officials implementing Obamacare would work.

“The specifics would be up to the state legislature working with local officials,” Stiles said in an email late Friday afternoon. “In general, laws need to have a penalty to have any effect and many people seem perfectly fine with penalties being imposed on citizens for simply wanting to purchase the health insurance that best meets the needs of their family.”

Democrats said the survey was just an another example of Ernst being a tea party radical.

“Apparently arresting health officials for giving Iowans access to quality, affordable healthcare is something Joni Ernst believes in. This is just another example of how her radical Tea Party ideas are wrong for Iowa,” Iowa Democratic Party spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said in a statement.

In July TPM highlighted that Ernst had previously said that Congress shouldn’t pass laws “that the states would consider nullifying.” Ernst made those comments at a 2013 Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition forum. States can’t nullify federal laws, as The Daily Beast, which first reported the story, noted.

See the survey below:

The TPM Polltracker average gives Ernst a 4.7 point lead over Rep. Bruce Braley, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Iowa.

This post has been updated.

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