TARGET 8 Fact Check: Ad contends Hawley climbed the political ladder

4 months 2 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, September 27 2018 Sep 27, 2018 Thursday, September 27, 2018 3:47:00 PM CDT September 27, 2018 in News
By: David Estrada, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA – Majority Forward focuses on how U.S. Senate Republican candidate Josh Hawley funds his campaign, the timing of his U.S. senate race and his work as attorney general regarding people with preexisting health conditions.

Who is Majority Forward?

According to its website, "Majority Forward is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization created to support voter registration and voter turnout efforts."

The non-profit works with 'Senate Majority PAC,' a super PAC, "to elect candidates whose policies represent the goals of the majority of Americans who want to move our country forward."

Between 2017-2018, Senate Majority PAC has spent $8,699,862 against Hawley and $1,420,858 in favor of U.S. Senate Democrat candidate Claire McCaskill.

As a super PAC, Senate Majority PAC "may receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor unions and other PACs for the purpose of financing independent expenditures and other independent political activity," according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Also, the super PAC Majority Forward works with can "spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates."

However, super PACs cannot work with candidates or the candidates' campaigns to decide how to spend the group's money. They also have to disclose their donors to the FEC but can spend as much money as they want to advocate for or against a candidate.

For those reasons, it could be considered that Majority Forward works with a 'dark money' group.

Fact Checking Majority Forward's claims

Claim: Just months after been elected attorney general, Josh Hawley began running for U.S. Senate.

On September 19, U.S. Senate Republican candidate Josh Hawley told KOMU 8 News, "this is certainly not a race I had intended to run, but it's a race that needs to be run."

Majority Forward supports its claim with the filing of 'Hawley Senate Exploratory Committee,' back in August, 2017.

On August 3, 2017, treasurer Salvatore Purpura filed a statement of organization for the newly created Josh Hawley Senate Exploratory Committee. That came seven months after Hawley was officially sworn into office as attorney general, on January 9.

However, the FEC allows individuals to "test the waters or explore the feasibility of becoming a candidate" through a "testing-the-waters committee" or an "exploratory committee." At that point, Hawley did not have to register as a candidate under the election law.

It was on October 18, 2017 when treasurer Salvatore Purpura filed documents to change the name of the committee from Josh Hawley Senate Exploratory Committee to 'Josh Hawley for Senate.' Hawley filed to the certified candidate list on February 27, 2018.

Result: We found this claim needs context.

On August, 2017 Josh Hawley was 'testing the waters' to run as a candidate for U.S. Senate but he was still not officially registered as a candidate at that point.

Claim: Josh Hawley took 'huge contributions' from the insurance industry.

It is not clear what Majority Forward means by 'huge contributions'. 

According to records from the Center for Responsive Politics, a research nonprofit used as a source for the claim, during the 2017-2018 election cycle Hawley has received $53,000 from insurance donors.

Majority Forward told KOMU 8 News they consider that amount a huge one. 

However, in the same election cycle McCaskill has received $295,338 from insurance donors.

Between 2017-2018, according to FEC's data, Hawley has raised $5,320,513 and McCaskill $20,809,801. Insurance contributions represent 1 percent of what Hawley has raised and 1.42 percent of the total contributions McCaskill has received. 

Result: We found this claim also needs context.

Majority Forward does not make clear their point of comparison to make that claim.

Claim: Josh Hawley filed a lawsuit that removes protections for people with preexisting conditions.

On April 27, 2018 Missouri Attorney General's office announced, in a press release, "Josh Hawley, as part of a 20-state coalition, filed a motion seeking preliminary injunction against the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare."

In a statement from September 13, Hawley said "The Texas v. Azar lawsuit is about the individual mandate and Obamacare. It's unconstitutional for the government to force us to buy something we don't want."

To understand the issue at hand better, it is necessary to review the background of the claim.

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Congress has the power to impose a fine, or what the Court saw as a tax, to people without minimum essential health coverage. That decision upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

However, in 2017 and through the 'Jobs Act,' Congress reduced that fine to zero percent, effective 2019. Because the government will no longer receive a revenue from people who violate the individual mandate, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session said he determined the state 20 attorneys general, including Hawley, are correct that the individual mandate will be unconstitutional once the Jobs Act's amendment becomes effective.

The coalition of attorneys general requested the Northern District Court of Texas to invalidate Obamacare as a whole because the individual mandate cannot be separated from the rest of the Affordable Care Act.

If the Texas court decides to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, 133 million people with pre-existing conditions may not be able to continue receiving insurance coverage, according to the filings of the lawsuit.

Result: We found this claim to be true.

Hawley filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. However, because that clause cannot be separated from the Act as a whole, individuals with pre-existing conditions would lose health coverage granted by Obamacare if it is invalidated as a whole.

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