In this analysis, we'll look at a claim being made by the American Action Network which describes itself on its website as "a 501(c)(4) 'action tank' that will create, encourage and promote center-right policies based on the principles of freedom, limited government, American exceptionalism, and strong national security" (Source: American Action Network website: http://americanactionnetwork.org/content/about).
The 501(c)(4) status means the group is registered with the IRS as a non-profit that is registered as a "social welfare tax exempt organization." It can raise unlimited amounts of money from donors who will remain private.
The organization is run by Fred Malek, who served under President George H.W. Bush and as the National Finance Chairman for John McCain's 2008 Presidential Campaign. On its board are also two former Republican senators: Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) and George Allen (R-Virginia). It is running a series of commercials around the country targeting Democratic members of Congress.
In this particular case, the ad attacks Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) in the state's 7th Congressional District. His opponents are Ryan Frazier (R-Colorado) and Buck Bailey (L-Colorado).
The scene is with a woman chatting online with a friend.
QUOTE: "Hey, what's up. Hey - you have to check out the article I just sent you. Apparently, convicted rapists can get Viagra paid for by the new health care bill. Are you serious? Yep. I mean, Viagra for rapists? With my tax dollars? And Congressman Perlmutter voted for it. Perlmutter voted for it?"
TRUTH: This is false. Perlmutter never voted for it.
The new health law treats sex offenders who are not incarcerated the same way the old law did. They can buy any health plan they choose. Some might cover drugs like Viagra, some might not. The new law doesn't say anything about these types of drugs.
As for the new health care law, the exchanges the government will be setting up as a low-cost alternative have not yet been set up, so no one knows what medications they will cover (Source: FactCheck.org: http://www.factcheck.org/2010/10/angles-shocking-and-misleading-viagra-claim/, http://www.factcheck.org/2010/04/more-malarkey-about-health-care/index.html).
There was a specific amendment offered in the U.S. Senate to prevent this from happening and it failed. Perlmutter is a Representative, not a Senator, and thus, did not vote on this specifically (Source: Fox News, April 6: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/04/06/gop-senator-health-care-law-permit-sex-offenders-viagra/).
Coincidentally, when he was arguing against the amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) said, "This is a serious bill. This is a serious debate. The amendment offered by the senator from Oklahoma makes a mockery of the Senate, the debate and the American people. It is not a serious amendment. It is a crass political stunt aimed at making 30-second commercials, not public policy" (Source: Politico, March 24: http://www.politico.com/livepulse/0310/Dems_reject_amendment_to_ban_Viagra_for_sex_offenders.html).
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