As part of a $3 million commercial campaign running in 12 congressional districts, close associates of President Donald Trump are urging people to thank a Florida congressman for his position opposing the Affordable Care Act.
The commercials, developed by the America First Policies organization, are airing on television and social media and ask people to congratulate U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) for his work on repealing Obamacare.
Brad Stewart, a spokesman for Mast, told the Florida Business Daily that the office is aware of the commercials, but when contacted recently said the congressman is in Europe with Speaker Paul Ryan and had not seen the advertisements.
Mast is not part of the House Freedom Caucus, members of which were opposed to elements of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), the proposed legislation backed by House leadership and Trump. Lack of support is blamed for the bill failing before it came to a vote.
Mast is regarded as a moderate, some of whom also opposed the AHCA. He supported the bill after being personally lobbied by Trump, according to the Florida Politics website.
One commercial that aired last week describes Obamacare as a "disaster" and claims that it will get worse.
"That's why Congressman Brian Mast is taking on Nancy Pelosi, standing firm opposing Obamacare," the ad says. "Congressman Mast is taking on special interests and keeping his promise to the voters to repeal Obamacare."
The commercial then asks voters to call the congressman and thank him for his courage and "standing with President Trump to repeal Obamacare now."
The Washington Post reported that the 12 congressmen touted in the ads were identified as among a group that told the White House they supported the AHCA. They include U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), who has introduced an amendment that would set up a new reinsurance program that provides $15 billion over nine years to insurance companies to cover the care of high cost patients, with the aim of keeping a lid on premiums and keeping the exchanges afloat.
Critics say it does not provide enough money to make any substantial difference.
Those organizing the campaign told the Post that it was "a gesture of appreciation to Trump’s friends in the chamber as well as a way to encourage other House Republicans to get behind the effort to revive health-care legislation."
America First Policies was formed in January. The chairman is GOP strategist Nick Ayers, who is closely linked to Vice President Mick Pence. Its senior adviser is Katie Walsh, Trump’s former deputy chief staff who left the White House in late March.
Others involved with the group include Brad Parscale, a senior adviser who ran digital operations for the Trump campaign, and Katrina Pierson, its spokeswoman, who was a campaign aide, according to the Post.