BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — An advertisement campaign aimed at candidate Emily Cain in the heated 2nd Congressional District race has stirred controversy among several medical associations in the state.
The ad released last week was funded by National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), one of the several national organizations that have fueled the most expensive U.S. House race in state history.
Our media partners at the Portland Press Herald reported that the NRCC alone has spent more than $500,000 on advertising in the 2nd District. That compared to $300,000 spent by its Democratic counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
The ad at the center of the debate depicts mothers beside their daughters holding up a bill that was sponsored by Emily Cain during her time in the state legislature back in 2007. The bill was intended to gauge childhood obesity in the state.
The ad says the bill, L.D. 1886, forces public schools to weigh students, violating their privacy. However, it is what the ad does not say that has medical associations in the state upset.
It leaves out that there was the option for students to opt out, and that the assessments were intended to be confidential. The initial bill did not even go into effect. A similar bill (L.D. 319) passed in 2009.
The Maine Medical Association (MMA) spoke out on Tuesday against the ad, calling it flat-out false.
“Well, it's pretty offensive actually," said MMA president Dr. Charles Pattavina. "It really disparages the reputations and work done by many people on a bipartisan commission back in 2005 to develop a lot of recommendations that are only about the health of Maine children."
The Maine Medical Association is tied to the Maine Physician's Action Fund, a nonpartisan PAC that Pattavina said has chosen to stand behind Cain. It is not the only organization to speak out in opposition, though. The Maine State Nurses Association called the ad "outrageous and false," and even the Maine Parent Teacher Association has called the ad into question.
The NRCC told NEWS CENTER in a statement Tuesday:
“Emily Cain cannot run from her record that is too extreme and too out of touch for Maine Families. Anyone can read Emily Cain’s bill that forces public schools to weigh students and report their weights to the government by searching for bill ‘LD 1886’ from the 123rd Session of the Maine Legislature.”
The Poliquin campaign has defended the ad calling the bill "extreme."
"No matter how you parse the facts, forcing schools to weigh kids is extreme. We should be working with parents to solve childhood obesity problems. As a single-father Congressman Bruce Poliquin understands that."
– Michael Byerly, Poliquin Campaign Spokesman
Emily Cain's campaign has said the ad is just another source of out-of-state interests revealing Congressman Poliquin's ties to Wall Street:
"…the facts speak for themselves - the bill's text originated from a bipartisan commission and there was such a strong bipartisan majority for it in the Legislature that they didn't even bother to take down the vote total. Those are the facts and it should be reported that way. Calling it extreme is simply a distortion of the record."
– Dan Gleick, Communications Director, Emily Cain for Congress