A new advertisement released last week from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea included a quote from 60 Plus, the American Association of Senior Citizens, stating that O’Dea will protect Social Security and Medicare.
But 60 Plus was founded to support efforts — most notably from George W. Bush in 2005 — to privatize Social Security. Until 2016, the group was funded by the conservative Koch Brothers.
In June, O’Dea, a Denver businessman, said he supported reducing the size of Social Security and Medicare benefits. O’Dea’s comments were made to a radio host about four weeks before the Republican Primary election.
Last week, O’Dea released the advertisement referencing the Koch-funded group, and he updated his campaign website to claim that references to his June comments are “false attacks.”
The new advertisement comes about four weeks before the general election where O’Dea is facing off against incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO).
O’Dea’s campaign did not respond to requests for clarification on his comments in June or last week. O’Dea also did not respond to a request for comment on 60 Plus’s history of advocating for privatizing Social Security. If a comment is provided this story will be updated to include it.
The ad states, “O’Dea will protect Social Security and Medicare.”
The quote in the advertisement is taken from an op-ed written by 60 Plus President Saul Anuzis published in The Fort Morgan Times titled “Joe O’Dea Will Stand Up For Seniors.”
“If you think the country is moving in the wrong direction, if you think we must do something about inflation, if you want a U.S. senator who will protect Social Security and Medicare for seniors and retirees at all costs, then we hope you will join 60 Plus in voting Joe O’Dea for Senate,” wrote Anuzis in the op-ed.
Anuzis is a longtime GOP strategist and former Chair of the Michigan Republican Party. In August, Anuzis wrote an op-ed in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel endorsing U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) for reelection.
Johnson has been criticized for his repeated suggestions that Social Security and Medicare should be eliminated as federal entitlement programs.
In the past year, multiple advertisements from 60 Plus attacking Democrats for wanting to strip billions of dollars from Social Security and Medicare have been debunked and labeled as false and misleading.
In addition to funding from the Koch Brothers, 60 Plus also received funding from the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a Big Pharma lobbying organization.