Fla. GOP Sen. Calls Out Koch Group’s Lobbyist For ‘Misleading’ Mailers

A Republican Florida state senator on Tuesday grilled a lobbyist for Americans for Prosperity about the group’s mailers criticizing senators’ support for a Medicaid expansion bill, calling the mailers “misleading.”

During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services hearing on Tuesday, state Sen. Rene Garcia said that Americans for Prosperity, a group funded by the Koch brothers, had sent mailers to the residents in his district claiming that Garcia has not addressed the issue of telemedicine.

“Why would your organization send out a mailer in different senate districts saying that we are not having this conversation about telemedicine, when in fact we are?” Garcia asked a lobbyist for the group during the hearing.

AFP lobbyist Melissa Fause responded that AFP had only sent out mailers concerning Medicaid expansion.

AFP sent out mailers at the end of March criticizing numerous Republican state senators for supporting a plan to expand Medicaid in the state. The senate’s plan would not follow the expansion model laid out by the Affordable Care Act, but would instead set up a state-run marketplace.

Garcia said that in the Medicaid mailers, AFP had made it seem as though he had not addressed telemedicine and other healthcare issues in the state senate, when he and other senators have discussed those issues in committee meetings.

“Why did you deceive the voters of my district, saying that I had not had those conversations or I was against those issues?” he asked Fause.

“Unfortunately, it seems like maybe our intent didn’t come through in the mailers,” Fause responded. “Our message has been the Senate is already engaging in a lot of amazing policies that are going to help deal with some of these issues, and we would rather that the Senate focus on those rather than pursuing this path to Medicaid expansion.”

Republican state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto jumped in to add that she also received one of the mailers in her district.

“Since you’ve put on the record that the Senate is engaged in pursuing some very amazing policies, to quote you, would you mind sending a mailer to all of our constituents that you sent the original mailer to, suggesting we’re engaged in some ‘really amazing’ policy development and follow up on your comments here at this committee?” Benacquisto asked Fause.

Watch the exchange at The Florida Channel. Garcia begins questioning Fause at the 16:30 mark.