American Action Network Continues To Lie About Rep. Perlmutter

October 23, 2010 4:51 pm ET

Norm Coleman's American Action Network is taking one of its most fallacious attack ads to Colorado. The ad accuses Rep. Earl Perlmutter (D) of having voted to give convicted sex offenders access to free Viagra. Not only did Perlmutter do no such thing, but the issue being raised in the ad concerns the Senate, not the House, where Perlmutter serves. In reality, an amendment that would have forbidden access to Viagra for sex offenders was only introduced in the Senate and was widely regarded as a slick political ploy on the part of Republican Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) to defeat health care reform.

American Action Network: "What Is Going On?"

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?

Yep - I mean, what is going on in Washington?

We need to tell Perlmutter to repeal it. In November

Rep. Perlmutter Did Not Vote - Either Way - On Viagra For Sex Offenders

The Coburn amendment to prevent sex offenders from access to Viagra was an issue in the Senate, while Rep. Perlmutter serves in the House of Representatives. 

The Viagra Amendment Was Introduced In The Senate. From Politico: "Democrats killed an amendment by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn to prevent the newly created insurance exchanges from using federal money to cover Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs for rapists, pedophiles and other sex offenders. ... Democratic Sen. Max Baucus urged his colleagues to defeat the amendment. '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,' he said." [Politico, 3/24/10]

As Final Senate Vote On Health Care Approached, GOP Pushed "Politically Juiced-Up Amendments ... Meant To Characterize Dems As Sympathetic To Sex Offenders." According to Talking Points Memo:

As the Senate gets closer to voting on a health care reconciliation bill, the Republican strategy to derail the Democrats' plans is getting creative--and dirty. Their strategy is clear: with Democrats determined to pass a clean bill, Republicans will force them to vote down politically juiced-up amendments, and likely turn them into political ads meant to characterize Dems as sympathetic to sex offenders and fraudsters.

Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) got it started by filing the first two amendments: one to repeal the 'government takeover of health care,' and another to block federal funding of ACORN (the community organizing group that folded yesterday). Just behind him came Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who wants to make Democrats vote, among other things, on an amendment that "prohibit[s] the new health care exchanges from providing coverage of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs to convicted child molesters and rapists." Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) got in on the act, authoring an amendment to strip all special deals out of the health care bill.

The goal is simple. To expedite its passage, Democrats need to keep the changes to the reconciliation bill to a minimum, and so have committed to voting down all amendments, even ones that they like. And Republicans want to turn those votes into negative campaign ads ahead of this November's election. [Talking Points Memo, 3/24/10, emphasis added, italics original] "There's Nothing In The Law That Supports, Requires Or Even Mentions" Viagra For Sex Offenders. Fact-checking an ad from Sharron Angle's campaign that attacks Harry Reid with the same claim, writes:

The amendment, proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, was not intended to counter some provision of the law that provided these drugs to convicted sex offenders. There's nothing in the legislation that supports, requires or even mentions such prescriptions. It also is true that the Congressional Research Service said that nothing in the health care law would mandate that health plans "limit the type of benefits that can be offered based on the plan beneficiary's prior criminal convictions." The new law will be just like the old: Convicts who are not in prison, including those convicted of sex offenses, will be able to buy any health plan they choose, some of which may cover drugs that treat erectile dysfunction. And former prisoners will be able to buy plans from the state-administered health exchanges with tax subsidies, if they qualify. [, 10/8/10, emphasis added]

Coburn's Own Health Care Bill Did Not Include Viagra Provision. As reported at the time: "Yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) filed an amendment to the health care reconciliation bill that would ban coverage of erectile dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. While such a provision may seem uncontroversial, Coburn is sending a clear partisan message: Democrats can either vote for his amendment, which would delay and possibly derail the reconciliation bill by sending it back to the House, or get attacked for wanting to give Viagra to rapists and child molesters. Furthermore, the Viagra amendment is noticeably absent from Coburn's own health care bill, the Patients' Choice Act, which suggests that his concern about sexual offenders is disingenuous." [, 3/24/10]