Off year political ad attacks U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan

A hard-hitting TV ad attacking Delaware County Republican congressman Pat Meehan has prompted his campaign to ask TV stations not to air the spot.

The ad produced by a new group called Accountability PA begins with an announcer asking “What could be worse that Congressman Pat Meehan voted to end Medicare as we know it?”

Two founders of the group worked for the campaign of Brian Lentz, the Democrat who lost to Meehan last year. The ad refers to Meehan’s vote this spring for a budget resolution backed by Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan.

Democrats across the country will be looking to re-take district’s like Meehan’s which they lost in 2010. Democratic media consultant J.J. Balaban, who worked for Lentz but isn’t associated with this effort, said the ad is similar to some that have appeared in special congressional elections.

“Democrats in these special elections have raised this already around the country and it’s highly likely you’ll see a lot more of these ads in 2012,” Ballaban said.

But Meehan’s campaign has written TV stations calling the ad false and defamatory, noting that the independent group PolitiFact says it’s false to claim the Ryan budget ends Medicare.

But Bob Finkelstein, one of the former Lentz campaign operatives behind the new ad, said the ad never makes that claim.

“It makes the claim that he voted to end Medicare as we know it, which has been substantiated by several news organizations,” Finkelstein said.

Finkelstein is right that PolitiFact never called that claim false. PolitiFact had analyzed a different ad which claimed that the Ryan plan ended Medicare altogether. It is true that Ryan’s proposal envisions major changes to Medicare.

The ad also claims Meehan lied to voters by saying he’d never support privatizing Medicare. In analyzing another Democratic ad, Politifact found it “mostly true” to say that Ryan’s budget plan privatizes medicare.

One of three stations that Accountability Pa bought time on chose not to run the ad. The organizatino bought only $5,000 worth of airtime altogether.

Asked if he’d disclose who’s paying for the ads, Finkelstein said, “We intend to abide by the rules of organizations of our type.”

Under campaign finance law, Accountability Pa, doesn’t have to disclose its donors.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.