Mammogram mudslinging targets independent HD61 hopeful
Ryan Summerlin October 16, 2012
Independent state House hopeful Kathleen Curry is defying an ad campaign accusing her of backing a bill allowing insurers to deny coverage for mammograms during a prior term in the Legislature.
Curry said the bill in question would not have impacted breast-cancer screenings.
“It hits home because my mother is a breast cancer survivor,” Curry said. “It’s so inappropriate. To use people who have experience with cancer, which is such a devastating disease, in politics, is really pretty poor taste.”
Local district attorney’s offices are launching an investigation of the Colorado Accountable Government Alliance, the committee funding the negative radio and mailer ads, at Curry’s request. Publishing false information intended to influence voters violates state law, she said.
“I’m not going to just let them get away with sending out and running ads that are lies about me,” Curry said. She later added in a release, “the use of such tactics damages the voters’ trust in the system and undermines the integrity of the election process.”
The mailer, which was paired with radio ads and sent out to Democrats and possibly others in Summit County and across the House District, states Curry is “the insurance companies’ best friend in Denver.”
It highlights a 2010 bill that would have imposed a one-year moratorium on new health insurance mandates, but mammograms, which were already a mandated benefit under previous state law, wouldn’t have been one of them, Curry said.
The bill died in committee in the House.
Curry, who served as a Democrat until her last year in office in 2010, initially blamed the Democrats for the attack campaign, saying moves like this one were among the reasons she finally left the party.
The mailers say “Curry lost her seat in the state House because she became part of the problem.”
But Curry’s Democratic opponent, Millie Hamner, and the party itself, have distanced themselves from the ads.
“Whatever is happening to Kathleen has nothing to do with my campaign,” Hamner said. “I’m running a clean and positive campaign. I’ve never said a negative word about any of my opponents.”
Democratic Party officials also claimed they weren’t familiar with the ad campaign.
“I haven’t seen them or the issues they address,” party spokesman Matt Inzeo stated in an email. “The party is proud to stand behind Rep. Hamner, especially as she has been a great advocate for health access and coverage for rural Coloradans.”
But the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee – an organization that claims it works to “win state legislative seats and chambers for Democrats” – is a significant contributor to Colorado Accountable Government Alliance.
Vail Resorts has also contributed thousands to the organization funding the ads.
The alliance has a reported budget of more than $2 million, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
Multiple attempts to contact Colorado Accountable Government Alliance agent Julie Wells were unsuccessful.
While disputing the campaign’s claims with a few radio ads of her own, Curry says she sees the effort as a positive sign for her own bid for the state House.
“I think that means I’m competitive in the race,” she said. “The parties don’t invest that kind of programming and effort unless the race is close.”
For the major parties, it’s the House itself that’s on the line. The Republicans won control of the state House by one narrow victory for one seat, putting the GOP up 33 seats to 32 held by the Democrats. The race for House District 61 could help determine which way the chamber goes in 2013.