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Gjerde and Hinson attack one another's record in TV ads

(WCAX)
Published: Nov. 2, 2018 at 6:00 PM CDT
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Attack ads on TV are targeting both candidates in Iowa House District 67. That district covers parts of Robins, Hiawatha, and Marion. The candidates are incumbent Republican Ashley Hinson and Democratic challenger Eric Gjerde.

Claims from Gjerde ad:

“Hinson met with students and promised to support their program… ’I am lining up to do it.’ Then a few days later cut them off. She even voted let insurance companies cut off healthcare to all Iowans with pre-existing conditions, even kids. Promises don’t matter when you vote with party leaders 99% of the time.”

Source of claims:

A television ad airing called “Stand Up” put out by the Democratic Party of Iowa and Eric Gjerde against incumbent Republican state Representative Ashley Hinson in Iowa’s House District 67 covering parts of Marion, Robins, and Hiawatha.

Analysis:

Claim 1 - “Hinson met with students and promised to support their program… ’I am lining up to do it’“…then a few days later cut them off.”

This claim officials with the Iowa Democratic Party tell TV9 are based on a remarks made by Hinson on the floor of the Iowa House in January 2017, where she acknowledged students who were in attendance from Findley Elementary School in Des Moines. During her time speaking about the students, Hinson pointed out the school was a designated “Turnaround Arts” institution.

The Turnaround Arts program is run by the Washington D.C. based non-profit, The Kennedy Center. Through their donations, the Kennedy Center helps fund the arts programs of 81 different schools across the country which includes Findley. Hinson never promised to support that specific program during the 1 minute and 22 seconds she spoke, but made a broader pledge to support kids in the arts.

“Any chance I get to support young people in the arts I’m lining up to do it,” Hinson’s full statement went.

Days after welcoming students from Findley Elementary, Hinson voted for SF 130, a multi-faceted budget bill that then Governor Terry Branstad signed into law. The bill included millions of dollars in cuts at all levels of government to help cover the a projected budget shortfall that year. One of those cuts was $6.1 million from the Iowa Cultural Trust Fund, which supports the state’s “nonprofit arts and cultural organizations”. Recipients of its grants include the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, and the Riverside Theatre in Iowa City. But a list of grant recipients since 2010 from the Cultural Trust Fund shows the Findley Elementary program never received any grants from the fund.

Not only does the ad take Hinson’s promise to the Des Moines students out of context, we also cannot find any evidence her vote directly cut any funding for their program. This claim gets an ‘F’.

Claim 2 - “Hinson said women’s healthcare was a top concern and then voted to cut and deny women access to healthcare services.”

Hinson supported House File 653 in 2017, which essentially defunded Planned Parenthood in Iowa by blocking state funding for agencies that include abortion services.

Those against the bill argued it limited the options for women’s health services, not just for abortions, while those in favor argue Planned Parenthood could still get funding by dropping that one controversial service. However, after the cuts, Planned Parenthood closed four clinics in Iowa. Data from the state Department of Health and Human Services also showed a sharp decrease in Iowans enrolled in family planning services since the bill took effect.

While the bill did not directly deny women access to healthcare services, the effect did reduce options and access. This claim gets an ‘A’.

Claim 3 - “She even voted let insurance companies cut off healthcare to all Iowans with pre-existing conditions, even kids.”

Hinson voted in March to require the state create rules for association health plans – basically allowing trade groups to offer health insurance plans for small businesses. House File 2502 allowed those plans to not follow requirements of the Affordable Care Act, like covering maternity care or addiction treatment and allowing companies to charge higher premiums or deny care for people with pre-existing conditions.

Hinson points out the bill did not change existing health care policies, so it does not let insurance companies “cut off” coverage to “all Iowans with pre-existing conditions”. Those overstatements by the ad are why this claim gets a ‘D’.

Claim 4 - “Promises don’t matter when you vote with party leaders 99% of the time.”

We could not find a third party that tracks legislative voting partisanship. The only way to track it is to log each vote on legislative logs over the two years Hinson has been in the legislature. That is simply too time consuming for us to do in a reasonable amount of time, so we have to rely on numbers each party provided.

Democrats based the claim on their own list of 364 votes Hinson made on made on bills, resolutions and amendments. They found only 3 times Hinson voted differently than the two top Republicans in the Iowa House. Hinson countered with her own list of her votes showing 88% of her votes were bi-partisan, defending how often she voted with party leaders. Hinson’s list only included bills, not amendments, but logged 33 votes more than the Democrats list. That led us to find the Democrats list left off countless votes and is, therefore, incomplete.

However, Hinson’s list did not include votes on amendments, so is incomplete. It also counted any time one democrat voted with republicans, so votes like a 56-41 on a fireworks bill and a 59-41 vote on a water quality bill, to name just a few, were counted as bipartisan.

It is clear, from Hinson’s own list, that she votes very frequently with party leaders. But the lists both Hinson and Democrats provided to demonstrate the extent of that frequency contain fatal flaws. For that reason, this claim gets a ‘C’.

Conclusion:

Overall, there are severe flaws or exaggerations with several of these claims, that’s why the ad overall gets a 'D'.

Claims from Hinson ad:

"Eric Gjerde believes in government run healthcare that would cost $32 trillion dollars and put our children in deeper debt.”

Source:

TV ad Rep. Ashley Hinson is running against Democrat Eric Gjerde in the race for Iowa House District 67 in Linn County.

Analysis:

The $32 trillion dollar cost figure comes primarily from a study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. It looked at a plan for a single-payer or universal health care system at the federal level that involved essentially expanding Medicare to cover all Americans.

The Iowa Democratic Party includes pushing for universal health care as part of its platform. However, we cannot find anywhere that universal health care is part of Eric Gjerde’s platform, in fact there is nothing about healthcare in his list of issue statements other than expanding mental health services and funding. Gjerde has tweeted and stated that he supports protecting Medicare and access to health care – but not a single-payer system.

Conclusion:

We specifically asked the Gjerde campaign about his stance on universal health care and were told “To be clear, he does not support Medicare for All.”

While Iowa Democrats in general may support a universal health care system – it’s an over reach to simply declare Gjerde agrees with all Democrats. That is why this claim gets a 'F'.