Reality Check: Baldwin ad seeks to define Vukmir on past votes

Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, is on the attack against her challenger State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa.

It’s a common strategy in politics to define your opponent before they can define themselves and Tammy Baldwin seeks to do just that in her latest ad .

On the #RealityCheck beat today looking at this ad from @tammybaldwin about @LeahVukmir‘s record. We’ll go claim by claim on this one tonight on @WISCTV_News3 at 5. #news3

— Jessica Arp (@news3jessica) September 12, 2018

“Who really is Leah Vukmir?” the announcer says in the ad as it begins. “For 16 years, Vukmir served in the state Legislature and has been a national leader of ALEC, an organization funded by corporations to lobby state governments.

News 3 finds it’s true that Vukmir is a 16-year veteran of the Legislature. She’s also a former chair, and remains on the board, or the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. ALEC is known for working with companies and largely conservative lawmakers to help draft and support legislation.

“Vukmir has repeatedly supported tax breaks for the wealthy,” the announcer continues.

News 3 finds this needs clarification.

Vukmir has voted for a number of tax cuts in her time in the Legislature including the state’s manufacturing and agriculture tax credit. Last year 85 percent of those claiming that credit made more than $500,000 according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

But Vukmir also voted for budgets that gave income tax cuts to Wisconsin residents across the board, including a 2013 cut that offered about $212 a year to the average family of four. It should be noted, though, that more than half of those cuts did go to those making more than $100,000 a year .

“[She] fought to weaken standards at nursing homes,” the ad says.

News 3 finds this is misleading.

Baldwin points to a vote Vukmir made on a tort reform bill in 2011 that, among many provisions, said records of state investigations into long-term care facilities could no longer be used in lawsuits. While that could affect cases, their fallout and how facilities may react in the future , the bill does not directly affect the standards for how a facility would treat a patient or how safety is enforced at the facility.

“And [she] tried to end SeniorCare, which provides low-cost prescription drugs to seniors,” the ad says.

News 3 finds this needs clarification. Vukmir did say that SeniorCare should be phased out back in 2005 when there was concern about the federal government ending funding for the program in 2007. She also said in 2008 that the program cost too much and encouraged seniors to enroll in Medicare Part D.

Vukmir’s campaign now points to a 2015 vote Vukmir made to restore funding that Gov. Scott Walker had initially cut from the SeniorCare budget and says she is “committed to ensuring seniors have access to affordable prescriptions.”

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