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Fact check: Misleading claims in attack ads against Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidates Oz and McCormick

Here’s a look at one of the attacks on Oz and one of the attacks on McCormick.

Two television commercials from a super PAC called the Pennsylvania Conservative Fund attempt to paint Oz as an impostor who merely pretends to be a conservative. Each of the ads features a narrator who claims that Oz “was the spokesperson for a group that wanted to dismantle the police.”
Facts first: This statement is misleading. ounces opposes the concept of police funding. His brief affiliation with the “band” these ads referred to, a health-focused foundation called The California Endowment, had nothing to do with policing. On the contrary, Oz appeared in a healthcare ad for the foundation – in which he urged Californians to visit the foundation’s website to learn how to take advantage of the benefits offered by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The ad came out in 2010, about a decade before the “defund the police” movement has grown in importance.

Sarah Reyes, spokeswoman for The California Endowment, said in an email that Oz had no involvement with the foundation beyond the announcement. “Dr. Oz was never employed by us or was a ‘spokesperson’ for our organization,” Reyes said.

The California Endowment made favorable comments in 2020 about protesters calling for defunding the police following the killing of George Floyd, and its chief executive spoke favorably in 2021 of the idea of ​​reducing the number of police on the streets and instead improve health, employment and housing programs. (This week, Reyes did not respond directly when CNN asked if the foundation supports police funding, saying, “As a private foundation, we are prohibited from taking positions on political issues. We support the prevention and cure.)

Either way, the California Endowment’s position on police defunding in the 2020s is beside the point of fact-checking here. The key fact is that super PAC ads attempt to use the guise of Oz in a single healthcare ad in 2010, years before most Americans had even heard the phrase “defund the police”, to imply that Oz supports defunding the police. It is misleading.

Oz campaign spokeswoman Brittany Yanick said in an email, “Affirming that Dr. Oz’s participation in a single ad for the California Endowment Fund constitutes Dr. Oz’s endorsement of a position the organization took 10 years later is both misleading and wrong.

CNN could not reach the super PAC behind the ad for comment. This claim about Oz and police funding has already been verified by

McCormick and the 2016 election

An Oz campaign ad claims that McCormick “paid for the attacks on Donald Trump.”

Facts first: This statement is misleading. While McCormick did donate early 2015 to a political action committee that backed Republican presidential nominee Jeb Bush, there is no indication that McCormick’s money was spent on attacks on Trump or intended for attacks on Trump — particularly because McCormick did his $5,000 donation five months before Trump even began his bid for President.
Yanick, the Oz campaign spokesperson, said in an email that this claim in the ad was referring to the fact that “McCormick hosted one of the FIRST fundraisers” for Right to Rise, a branch of the pro-Bush operation that spent money attacking Trump. . It’s true — McCormick was a member of the organizing committee for that January 2015 fundraiser — and the Oz campaign has every right to criticize McCormick for it.

But it is still a stretch to claim that McCormick himself paid for any attack on Trump.

First, this first Bush fundraiser took place more than five months before Trump launched his candidacy in a speech in June 2015. McCormick’s $5,000 donation was recorded exactly five months before the Trump announcement. At the time, many observers scoffed at the idea that Trump was actually going to run.
Second, even after Trump announced his run, Bush allies hesitated for months to attack him. While pro-Bush super PAC Right to Rise USA was funding attack ads against Trump in late 2015, a lot of time passed between those ads and McCormick’s donation earlier in the year. (Also, McCormick’s January 2015 donation was intended for the pro-Bush PAC with a similar name, not the super PAC which raised far more money and led the publicity effort.)
McCormick also donated $2,700 to Bush’s own campaign in June 2015, the month Bush announced his candidacy. A McCormick campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week that McCormick continued to support Trump in the general election, vote for Trump in 2016 and 2020 and serve on the Defense Policy Council. of the Trump administration.
McCormick, however, said at a Duke University event in early 2017 that “I wasn’t particularly involved with the Trump camp — I wasn’t a Trump supporter — but I wanted this president to succeed.” , adding that he also would have wanted success for Hillary Clinton if she had won.
This claim about funding McCormick’s attacks on Trump has already been verified by and PolitiFact.

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