State Rep. Jan Angel is asking Comcast Cable to pull television ads off the air that she says lie about her record.
The advertising is paid for by She's Changed PAC, an effort by Democratic, environmental and labor groups to keep Port Orchard Republican Angel from winning a state Senate race Nov. 5. It is independent from Angel's opponent, Gig Harbor Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher.
There are several claims in question, but one in an ad airing now on Comcast stations says Angel "sponsored legislation to reduce access to mammograms and cancer screenings." Or, as another version of the ad puts it, the legislation would have benefited the insurance companies helping fund Angel's campaign by "allowing them to deny coverage for mammograms."
The proposal in question would have repealed all state-mandated insurance benefits and replaced them with a simple requirement to comply with federal mandates. Among the state mandates repealed is a requirement to cover mammograms.
Angel supported that 2011 proposal, House Bill 1361, by signing on as a co-sponsor.
Angel's letter to Comcast says the ads falsely portray the bill as reducing coverage for mammograms when actually it would have increased coverage.
The reason? Obamacare.
The federal Affordable Care Act "expanded health insurance coverage for mammograms and cancer screenings," writes the Angel campaign's attorney, Samuel Rodabough.
"In order to avoid regulatory duplication, HB 1361 proposed nothing more than requiring Washington health carriers to comply with the more expansive federal mandate, rather than the more limited state mandate."
Not that Angel supports the Affordable Care Act.
She opposes it, arguing that it wrongly forces people to buy insurance and that health-insurance exchanges won't be sustainable for the state to maintain if federal funding recedes. Angel co-sponsored a measure that would have barred the state from spending any money on planning or implementing Obamacare.
(Oddly, her campaign lawyer's letter highlights her support for a budget that funded the exchange. But overall, her voting record is mixed on the exchanges.)
Contrary to the letter, the language of HB 1361 doesn't outline an intent to make mandates tougher. It calls for eliminating "state mandated benefits that exceed the essential health benefits" in federal law.
But the bill does acknowledge those essential health benefits mandated by Obamacare, which include mammograms and other cancer screenings. So it's a stretch to say the measure intended to reduce coverage for mammograms -- at least on its own.
Less clear is what would have happened if Republicans had somehow been able to block funding for Obamacare implementation.
"I find it hard to believe that she's trying to defend herself with the Affordable Care Act after fighting against it," said Collin Jergens, a spokesman for the She's Changed PAC.
"I think everyone pretty much knew it was a foregone conclusion that Obamacare was coming to Washington whether Republicans liked it or not," countered Angel's spokesman, Keith Schipper.
A spokesman for Comcast Spotlight, the division of the company that sells advertising, said it is reviewing Angel's request. Chris Ellis said the company usually gives each side a chance to respond before making a decision in such cases.
"When it comes to third-party advertising, we will not air ads that we deem to be unsubstantiated, false or misleading," Ellis said.
(Candidates, on the other hand, may lie with impunity under state law. And Ellis says federal law doesn't allow Comcast to censor candidates' ads.)
Here are the ads in question: