American Action Network Doubles Down On Shameless "Viagra" Attack

October 19, 2010 8:58 am ET — Melinda Warner

It is no big secret that political ads are some of the most deceptive, misleading, and self-serving media around.  Whether it's direct mail, radio, or television, there seems to be no limit to the depths to which some will sink to try and get themselves (or their party) elected. 

Recently, websites like, PolitiFact, and Political Correction have taken on the misinformation in these ads, as well as the groups behind them. For instance, Political Correction has found that right-wing groups have spent millions to run thousands of ads in this election cycle alone. 

A new round of horribly dishonest ads has emerged recently. Following a similarly deceitful ad from Sharron Angle, the American Action Network — headed by defeated former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman — has launched ridiculous ads against House Democrats about an issue from the Senate.

Here's the situation:

In March 2009, during the latter part of the debate over health care reform, Senate Democrats were working to pass a reconciliation bill without a myriad of amendments. Senate Republicans then offered a variety of amendments with the seeming intention of forcing Democrats to vote against common sense legislation — such as an amendment introduced by Sen. Coburn that would, according to Politico, "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." 

The reform bill was ultimately passed (without Coburn's or any other last minute Republican amendments) and signed into law by President Obama.

Now, it might not be obvious to Coleman and his colleagues, but the House of Representatives and the Senate are two separate legislative bodies, and what applies to one does not necessarily apply to the other.

Even though the "Viagra" vote occurred in the Senate, Coleman's AAN has produced several ads blatantly lying about votes cast by congressional Democrats.  In ads attacking Reps. Wilson, Murphy, Himes, and Titus, AAN asserts that these representatives voted in favor of allowing health care reform to pay for Viagra for those convicted of sexual crimes. 

The Coburn amendment never made it to the House, so it is literally impossible that the members in question could have voted on it. Meanwhile, Coburn's concern about sex offenders was so disingenuous that he didn't even include the Viagra provision in his own health care bill.  But unsurprisingly, AAN and Coleman have jumped at the chance to turn last spring's ridiculous political gamesmanship into dishonest political attack ads anyway.