Outside Groups Target Wisconsin as Johnson Holds VA Hearing

A conservative group is doubling down, accusing Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate Russ Feingold of ignoring problems at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah, Wisc., when he was in the Senate.

And on Tuesday – as Republican Sen. Ron Johnson planned to hold a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in Tomah – Senate Democrats attempted to turn it against the vulnerable Republican.

The controversy surrounds alleged overprescription of painkillers at the VA’s Tomah hospital. In 2014, the hospital was found at fault for a Marine’s death, nearly six years after concerns were first raised in a memo. Feingold has said he never received the memo, and aired an ad of his own claiming, “On Tomah, it was Ron Johnson who failed.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, pointing to a former union official who called the claim that Feingold received the memo while he was in the Senate a “total lie” and that Johnson may have missed signs of issues at Tomah, released a digital ad saying that Johnson is “no friend of veterans.”

On the same day, the Freedom Partners Action Fund released a new component of a digital campaign that attempts to make its case against Feingold, a spokesman told Morning Consult.

“We want voters to see for themselves the overwhelming evidence – the memos, the police report, the audio testimony – of all the efforts made to get this information to the people in power,” said Bill Riggs, a spokesman for the group. “The idea that Russ Feingold – Wisconsin’s sitting U.S.  Senator at the time – claims he had no knowledge of these problems should be extremely troubling.”

The Republican-aligned group will push an online timeline to voters as part of the group’s $2 million ad campaign on the issue. A television ad about the issue had to be revised after three Wisconsin stations pulled it from their airwaves.