A super PAC created by the Koch brothers revised a digital and TV ad hitting Russ Feingold over the Tomah VA scandal after three television stations pulled the original spot.
WLUK and WGBA, both in Green Bay, as well as WMSN in Madison pulled the ads, according to Feingold's campaign. Representatives of those stations did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the original ad.
The Freedom Partners Action Fund is spending $2 million on the ad run.
The original and revised spots feature Ryan Honl, an Army veteran who worked at the Tomah VA after his medical discharge and who has been critical of Dem lawmakers for not doing more about the over-prescription of opioid painkillers at the Tomah VA. In both ads, he says, “Things have been falsified there for so many years. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I blew the whistle.”
But the new 60-second revised spot tweaks Honl’s comments about whether Feingold, when he was a U.S. senator in 2009, received memos regarding prescription drug over-prescriptions at the Tomah VA.
In the original ad, Honl says, “I found out that Russ Feingold got a memo in 2009 that outlined veteran harm. And nothing was done. Russ Feingold ignored veterans’ concerns while veterans were dying at the facility.”
In the revised ad, Honl says, “I found out about multiple memos outlining veteran harm, marked ‘delivered’ to Sen. Feingold. And nothing was done. Russ Feingold could have started an investigation while veterans were dying at the facility.”
As Honl finishes that comment, a headline -- “Report says … Feingold … told about Tomah VA problems in 2009” – flashes across the screen.
The memo has been a point of contention in the race between Feingold and U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson. Feingold’s aides say they cannot find any evidence he received the memo, which was marked “hand delivered.” The memo’s author, a union official, said earlier this year she does not believe it ever reached Feingold. The memo was also used in a radio ad by the Wisconsin Alliance for Reform earlier this year knocking Feingold.
Tom Russell, Feingold’s campaign manager, today said he has not seen the revised ad. But he said he doubts “washing and resubmitting” the original would make it “less false.”
“It’s been clear for months,” Russell said, “that this charge is a bogus charge.”
But Freedom Partners Action Fund spokesman Bill Riggs, in an emailed statement, backed the new ad.
“The substance of the ad is the same -- multiple memos showing veteran harm at Tomah were marked delivered to Sen. Feingold, and he did nothing,” Riggs said. “The idea he had no knowledge of a major scandal unfolding in his state over the course of two years should be alarming to most voters in Wisconsin.”