After an ad attacking Sen. Thom Tillis’ position on Medicaid expansion aired North Carolina has found itself caught up in a duel to define the most pressing issue of the pandemic era. Majority Forward, and Priorities USA ran an ad linking Medicaid expansion to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ad highlights Sen. Thom Tillis’ opposition to Medicaid expansion while he was in the NC House, and puts it in the light of the pandemic.
The ad has not been the only attempt to tie the issue of Medicaid to the virus. A group of seven Democratic state legislators hosted an online press conference introducing HB 1040, which proposes an expansion of Medicaid beneficiaries.
Who are the PACs behind the ad?
Priorities USA does not disguise the organizations’ political leanings, stating on the home page of their website that they are, “Fighting for our progressive values.” In 2016 it was one of the most prominent PACs supporting Hillary Clinton.
Majority Forward, which seeks to help Democrats capture control of state legislatures, is a little less forthcoming on their website, describing themselves as, “a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization created to support voter registration and voter turnout efforts. Our primary mission is to encourage full participation by voters in our election process.”
Despite this non-partisan tone, Influence Watch describes it as, “a Democratic Party-aligned advocacy group that campaigns against Republicans and conservative causes.” Influence Watch itself is owned by Capital Research Center, which is a right-leaning think tank which, “examine[s] how foundations, charities, and other nonprofits spend money and get involved in politics and advocacy, often in ways that donors never intended and would find abhorrent.”
OpenSecrets.org has described Majority Forward as a dark money group with ties to the Democratic party. OpenSecrets.org is the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, described as a non-profit, non-partisan group that seeks to track the effects of lobbying and money on elections and public policy.
The Republican Effort
Republicans have made efforts to link America’s reliance on Chinese production of medical supplies to the virus. Stand for America—a group founded by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley—has been promoting a petition to, “make critical medical supplies in America, not China.” Though unlike Democratic Party’s drive to link Medicaid expansion and the virus, the Republican effort to link medical supply production to the pandemic does not seem to have been picked up on the state level yet, and there is no correlating bill in the General Assembly.
At the time of publication, Influence Watch did not have any information on Stand For America, and Open Secrets indicated the group had not spent any money in the 2018 election cycle.
On the national level, President Trump has made steps towards prioritizing the issue.