Truth Test: Hagedorn Vs. Feehan

October 10, 2018 09:13 AM

(ABC 6 News) -- We're just weeks away from the November election and with election season comes political attack ads.

Democrat Dan Feehan and Republican Jim Hagedorn are both vying to hold the Congressional seat for Minnesota’s first district.
There are currently attack ads out for both candidates. We wanted to put two of those ads to the test and see just how truthful they really are.


We begin with the attack on Feehan. The National Republican Congressional Committee or NRCC begins the ad with states this claiming that “Dan Feehan brags about being from Milwaukee.” The claim came from the U.S. Army's ROTC website.

According to his website, Feehan says he was born in St. Paul and grew up in Red Wing, Minnesota, so he's not "from Milwaukee." His parents moved there during his junior year of college in 2004 and that's where he registered his address.

The ad goes on to say Feehan “learned Chicago style politics from some of America’s most corrupt politicians.”

It’s hard to know exactly what the NRCC is talking about here.  What we do know is Feehan was a mayoral fellow for three months in Chicago back in 2012. Rahm Emanuel was mayor at the time and still is now. The "corrupt" claim could come from 2015 when Emanuel’s approval rating went down because the city did not want to release video from a police-involved shooting. However, that was three years after Feehan was a fellow.

The NRCC’s next claim says Feehan “donated big bucks to Hilary Clinton’s campaign in New York.

Feehan did donate to Clinton’s campaign back in 2016. But big bucks may be misleading.
According to the Federal Election Committee's website, his total campaign contribution was $1,500.

The ad says “now Dan Feehan is moving to southern Minnesota to run for office.

According to Feehan's website, he moved back to Minnesota in 2017 after President Obama left office.

The NRCC says Feehan was “bankrolled by Nancy Pelosi and her California friends.”

Feehan’s campaign denies this claim, and once again, according to the FEC website, there were no documented contributions to Feehan from Pelosi in 2018. But there were contributions from California. It's just unclear who the ad is referring to when it says the "friends of Pelosi.”

The ad finished by saying “Dan Feehan will support their liberal tax and spend policies that will destroy Medicare if you send him back to D.C.”

This allegation is again vague. But on the front of his website, Feehan makes it no secret that he supports President Obama's Affordable Care Act and universal healthcare.

ABC 6 News brought in political analyst Shane Baker to give us his opinion on the attack ad.

“Is it fair to say selective? It seems like they're taking some liberties at best. It's not necessarily meant to be a particularly factual, well-researched paper but it's trying to link Dan Feehan to people that conservatives wouldn't like. Seems a little bit misleading again a little bit selective,” Baker said.

So on a scale of truthful to misleading the ad is considered fairly misleading.

An attack ad on Hagedorn also came out around the same time as Feehan’s. This one supported by VoteVets.

This ad starts off with more of an opinion,  saying, “right now we have a leader than southern Minnesota can trust in Congress. That would change if Washington insider Jim Hagedorn takes his place.”

“it jabs the Blue Earth native for living in Washington D.C. for 25 years of his career. He says he moved to D.C. in 1984, then returned to Minnesota in 2009.

VoteVets goes on to say “Hagedorn supported a health care plan that would charge older Americans up to five times more.”

Although true, this claim can be misleading. It refers to a provision of the American Health Care Act that would allow insurance companies to charge adults five times more for insurance than younger people.


What the ad doesn't tell you is that in the Affordable Care Act, insurers can already charge older people three times more than younger adults. Some viewers might assume the five-fold increase starts from zero.

“It gets worse,” the ad says. “The plan would strip protections for pre-existing conditions.”

For the most part- this claim is true. The AHCA states insurers can't limit access to coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, meaning protections can weaken for these patients.

Instead of limiting access, the legislation would allow states to give insurers the power to charge people significantly more if they have pre-existing conditions.

“And it would hurt seniors on Medicare,” the ad continues.

According to the American Geriatrics Society, the AHCA would also phase out existing Medicaid expansions, cutting services for beneficiaries between the ages of 55 and 64 who can't afford coverage.

We brought in our ABC 6 News political analyst Shane Baker to break down just how truthful this ad really is.

“It's again slanted and offers a particular kind of interpretation of the facts. It's probably closer to objectively true but again I think more than anything it's meant to elicit that emotional response,” Baker said.

So putting on the scale of truthful to misleading, this ad is ranked mostly truthful.


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