Omaha, NE.—It took a while but with Election Day just two weeks away, the fight over Medicaid expansion has hit TV—from both sides—with questions about who’s paying and how.
On the one side—those favoring the expansion to an estimated 90,000 Nebraskans—is Insure the Good Life, which drove the issue to the ballot with a successful statewide petition drive that relied heavily on paid petition gatherers.
Those petitioners were paid largely through checks written by The Fairness Project, described by Insure’s Meg Mandy during an interview with News Channel Nebraska earlier this year as a “national non-profit that works with grass roots organizations all over the country.”
To date The Fairness Project has doled out nearly $1.2 million dollars, $112,000 since the petition drive ended and the TV campaign began. So far Insure the Good Life has shelled out nearly $300,000 for TV ads in Omaha alone.
NCN’s Joe Jordan: (Insure the Good Life’s ) critics argue that because the money is coming from outside Nebraska that this isn’t a local push by Nebraskans.
Meg Mandy: This is something Nebraskans do want and I think we’ll see that in November…we know that we have at least 85,000 Nebraskans that want it because they signed the petition (in the end the Secretary of State certified nearly 105,000 names).
The anti-Medicaid expansion TV fight is being led by Alliance for Taxpayers, a little known operation led by former North Platte Mayor Marc Kaschke who now lives in Elkhorn.
According to public TV files examined by News Channel Nebraska, Kaschke, Hastings lawyer Dan Pauley and Deana Layden orchestrated the TV ad buy in Omaha.
News Channel Nebraska spoke briefly with Pauley who said Kaschke would get back to NCN sometime Monday—so far though NCN has not received any comment for this story.
The Alliance has bought a comparatively paltry $8,000 in Omaha TV time, which puts the group over the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission’s $5,000 threshold requiring a public filing of contributions. According to the NACD website, Alliance for Taxpayers has yet to file the required information.
Jack Gould of Common Cause Nebraska tells NCN the Alliance for Taxpayers is “breaking the law.”