Some Republicans in Tennessee are not too pleased with Americans for Prosperity’s attempts to tank a bill that would have expanded Medicaid in the state.
According to The Tennessean, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a group funded by the Koch brothers, targeted multiple Republicans with mailers and put out a 60-second spot attacking Republican state Rep. Kevin Brooks’ stance on the bill.
Brooks told The Tennessean that he merely asked his Republican colleagues to approach the bill to expand medicaid with an open mind.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick (R) told The Tennessean that AFP “very unfairly attacked Kevin Brooks in particular” over the Medicaid bill. McCormick lamented that AFP does not necessarily represent the interests of Tennessee residents.
“The AFP represents a small group of people and a small group of donors. They’re not from Tennessee,” he said.
The bill to expand Medicaid failed to pass in the state General Assembly this year.
Tom Ingram, an advisor to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), told The Tennessean that AFP may be partially to blame for the bill’s failure. He said that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision opened states up to influence from outside groups.
“They (AFP) have a full-time staff, they’ve poured in a lot of money indirectly and directly,” Ingram said. “It’s largely to push whatever agenda they have and influence, frankly, our elected officials, our issues, disproportionately more than any of us as individual voters can.”
“I find something out of whack about that,” he continued.
Haslam himself said he did not think that AFP had much influence over the decisions of state legislators.
“My sense is that oftentimes the outside group’s impact is a little overstated,” Haslam said last week, according to the Tennessean. “I think (legislators) tend to come into that with their own impressions and then listen to the arguments, both sides.”
Republicans in Florida last month also expressed frustration with AFP’s attempts to influence legislation.
During an April hearing, a Republican lawmaker told an AFP lobbyist that the group’s mailers about the issue of telemedicine were “misleading.”
H/t Raw Story