FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Candidates in a competitive Kentucky Congressional district are complaining about a pair of allegedly misleading TV ads airing weeks ahead of a pivotal election that could help determine which party controls Congress in the second half of Republican President Donald Trump's first term.
Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and Democratic challenger Amy McGrath are vying for Kentucky's 6th Congressional District in a race that has focused partly on health care and the military.
"With Honor," a group that supports veterans running for office, aired an ad this week that says "Congressman Andy Barr would let shady payday lenders take advantage" of military veterans. It noted Barr's campaign has accepted $36,550 in donations from the payday lending industry.
Chris Ashby, an attorney for Barr's campaign, sent a letter to four Lexington, Kentucky, TV stations demanding they stop running the "deeply dishonorable ad." He noted Barr worked for former Missouri U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, who sponsored the Military Lending Act of 2006 that caps the maximum rate of interest small-dollar lenders can charge on loans to military veterans. In Congress, Barr also voted for the Financial Choice Act, which Ashby said "would not have removed the interest rate cap."
With Honor representative Ellen Zeng said the Financial Choice Act would have dismantled the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which she says protects military members from payday lending practices.
"This really hurts veterans in Kentucky and Congressman Barr needs to own up to his record," Zeng said.
With Honor has endorsed Republican U.S. Reps. Don Bacon of Nevada and Brian Mast of Florida. Both men voted for the Financial Choice Act.
The Barr campaign's letter to TV stations comes days after McGrath complained about an ad Barr is running that McGrath says misleads voters about her views on health care. The ad shows a clip of McGrath saying: "If we were to build a health care system from scratch, single-payer would be the way to go." A narrator then describes the consequences of "Amy McGrath's single-payer Socialist plan," which would cost "$32 trillion," ''double your federal taxes" and end "Medicare as we know it."
McGrath says she does not support a single-payer health care system. The quote in the ad comes from a video posted on her campaign website, where McGrath says "if we were to build a health care system from scratch, single-payer would be the way to go. But we have a very complex health care system in America."
She went on to say in the video her preference is to "fix" the Affordable Care Act instead of repealing it in favor of a single-payer system. Her suggested "tweaks" include allowing people to buy in to Medicare before they are eligible and giving people the option of purchasing a government health care plan.
"It's typical of Andy Barr and his team, taking things out of context," McGrath said.
The Barr campaign stood by the ad, with spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker saying: "Amy McGrath is on the record multiple times saying she likes single-payer. We take her at her word."