In what appears to be a distraction strategy by Nebraska Senate candidate Shane Osborn, his campaign or someone close to it is recycling a tenuous story about his opponent Ben Sasse, a former Health and Human Services official in the Bush administration. Sasse is being accused of helping a healthcare consulting firm, in 2010, push for Obamacare and specifically Medicare Part D, an unfunded entitlement program unpopular with conservatives.
On Friday, Politico reported that Ben Sasse aided Leavitt Partners and, astonishingly, Politico behaved as though this was fresh news and didn’t realize or check that the story was reported by the Washington Post back in November. Sasse’s campaign disputes that he ever worked for the firm: “Ben Sasse has never worked for Leavitt Partners or received a dime from Leavitt Partners for any work. We cannot control what some intern may have mistakenly put in a PowerPoint or on a tent card from three years ago.” Sasse has run hard against Obamacare, so the idea that he’d help implement it is potentially damaging.
This story is a classic example of what is referred to as an “oppo dump,” which is short for opposition research files on rival candidates that are forwarded to reporters. Campaigns do this all the time and it is considered standard operating procedure as long as the stories are true. However it looks like this time the reporter for Politico got it wrong because he wrote that the revelations about Sasse’s supposed alliance with Leavitt had not been reported until now.
Mr. Osborne may be trying to deflect attention from the politically damaging information released in the latest edition of the Weekly Standard. The magazine stated that the Securities firm, in which Osborne is a partner, is profiting off of the taxpayer-funded bailout program TARP to the tune of the $400 billion. Osborn, who is being funded by lobbyists aligned with the Senate Republican leadership, was accused by the Nebraska Republican party of lacking integrity and “using the media to do his dirty work, and then refusing to discuss his negative attacks when given the chance to do so.”