Conservative group targets Howell for his support of autism bill
Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group that opposes the federal health care overhaul, began robocalls statewide Monday targeting Bill Howell, the powerful speaker of the House of Delegates, for his support of a bill to provide insurance coverage for children with autism.
The calls to the group's 80,000 Virginia members began Monday afternoon and will run through this week's House vote.
"To rail against the mandates in Obamacare then turn around and support mandates in the state level is nothing short of hypocrisy,'' said Ben Marchi, the group's state director.
As we reported earlier, Howell (R) has put his considerable weight behind the bill that would require businesses to provide insurance coverage for children with autism after failing to support similar proposals in past years.
Howell's position, which all but ensures the bill will pass the General Assembly this year, has upset some members of his caucus.
"Obviously autism is a very personal and emotional thing for families to deal with, but not every tragic situation deserves a new government mandate," Marchi said. He said Americans for Prosperity will be educating Virginia voters about how legislators voted on the issue.
Paul Nardo, Howell's chief of staff, declined to comment. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), said the governor will review the bill if it passes the General Assembly.
Read the full robocall script below:
Hi. This is Ben Marchi with Americans for Prosperity calling to ask you to help stop a liberal healthcare bill that's currently being pushed through the General Assembly.
The bill, HB 2467, would tell private companies what kind of services they must offer.
Normally, we could depend on Republican leaders to kill this bill, but unfortunately,
Speaker Bill Howell has turned his back on conservatives and is siding with big government liberals.
Call Bill Howell at 804 698 1628 and tell him that government should help businesses, not hurt them."
| January 31, 2011; 3:26 PM ET
Categories: Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, Robert F. McDonnell, State Senate, William Howell
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