Dear Mr. Pearce:
I saw the message you sent out to your e-mail list and was surprised by some of your claims and accusations. Having an honest and transparent conversation about where candidates stand on issues is critical, but I believe that people are tired of unsubstantiated political rhetoric and constant flip-flopping on issues. Letters like yours are the reason people are so frustrated with politics and why voters don’t trust most candidates these days. For that reason, I would like to address some of the statements in your message that I believe are inaccurate or misleading.
First, your claim that Monica Wehby has always been for the repeal of Obamacare is not consistent with the record. On Nov. 4, 2013, Monica was interviewed by the Portland Business Journal. The article was headlined “Portland brain surgeon and Senate candidate dislikes Obamacare, but would she repeal it?” and can be found here. The headline gives you some idea of the Monica’s failure to come out against the repeal of Obamacare, but here is relevant portion of the interview:
PBJ: Will you vote to repeal Obamacare if you’re elected?
Wehby: That’s not politically viable at this point. We can’t get it repealed with Obama in office. We have to focus on coming together with solutions.
The question was simple and Monica’s answer was clear: She would not vote to repeal Obamacare because she thought it is not practical while President Obama is in office. That may well be the case, but Jason Conger believes elected officials should represent Oregonians and fight to repeal and replace the law, even if it ends in a presidential veto. Obamacare is hurting Oregonians, and it is not sufficient to surrender to Obama without even trying to right the ship. If nothing else, a Republican Congress should set before the president legislation repealing Obamacare to advance the discussion about this disastrous law and Republican efforts to replace it.
After receiving criticism for her refusal to vote for a repeal of Obamacare, Monica made a sudden conversion. It was only on Feb. 12, 2014 that Monica stated her support for a full repeal of Obamacare, even then it was only after several minutes of grueling questioning by Lars Larson.
For you to now claim that Monica has always favored repeal and that unnamed opponents are distorting her position is puzzling.
It’s also not true that Monica Wehby is the only Republican candidate who’s offered a patient-centered alternative to replace Obamacare. As you must know, Representative Conger has done so. Please see Rep. Conger’s issue section at his website. Not to mention, Rep. Conger has offered solutions at numerous public forums, many of which Monica also attended.
You begin your e-message with a quotation from an opinion writer who writes occasionally for The Oregonian. The point you seem eager to make is that by voting for the state “Cover Oregon” healthcare exchange website that Representative Conger somehow supported Obamacare and a “government takeover of our healthcare system.”
Mr. Pearce, you must know this to be false – especially since you deliberately misquoted the author. You left out the beginning of the quote which says, “Faced with the very real alternative of being swallowed up by HealthCare.gov”. Consciously misquoting articles to manufacture hit-pieces on your opponent is beneath Monica and unwelcome in a U.S. Senate primary.
Oregon legislators were given two choices 1) opt for local control and establish a state exchange, or 2) be “swallowed up” by the federal government and co-opted into the federal exchange. Unfortunately, Oregonians would fall under Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act regardless of how legislators voted on the healthcare exchange issue. I can only assume that by criticizing Rep. Conger’s vote for option #1 that you must support #2 and favor submitting Oregon to the will of federal government. Obviously, the Kitzhaber administration has completely failed to create the state exchange, but I am not convinced that the Obama administration’s track record is much better. Additionally, Obamacare is a federal issue, which state legislators cannot vote on. The Oregon Legislature has never voted for or against the Affordable Care Act or, as you put it, “a government takeover of our healthcare system.”
Finally, I want to end on the subject of transparency and integrity. As I mentioned earlier, Jason appreciates a frank discussion about ideas and principles, but I think misleading statements and intentionally misquoting articles is counter-productive. People want to know where the candidates stand and they deserve transparency. Monica was involved at the highest levels of the American Medical Association for decades, which has taken seriously concerning positions on gun control. She has tried to distance herself, but I think voters deserve more. She should release voting records, board minutes, anything that might prove her claims that she did not support the AMA’s policies, despite sitting on the board. I also think they should know why the first point in Monica’s health care proposal – which you tout several times in your message – endorses the continuation of health care exchanges. And I think you should make it clear why she has decided to change her position on repealing Obamacare since her interview with the Portland Business Journal.
I shall look forward to your response.