After losing the fight to block Medicaid expansion, a Koch-funded conservative group served up a gaffe that has state Democrats and political observers rubbing salt into the wound.
The Montana House of Representatives last week passed the bitterly contested HELP Act to extend subsidized health care coverage to thousands of low-income residents.
The state chapter of Americans for Prosperity quickly issued a statement Thursday opposing the decision, saying it contradicted the wishes of “millions of Montanans” who “do not want more Obamacare.”
Cue Twitter. A new hashtag was born the next day, thanks, apparently, to the governor himself.
“Yesterday, a ‘grassroots’ organization talked about the things #MillionsOfMontanans did. What else have #MillionsOfMontanans done? #MTLeg,” Steve Bullock tweeted.
Montana users of the online social media site were eager to pile on. The hashtag had been tweeted or retweeted 2,000 times by Monday evening, according to the tracking service Keyhole. Around 1.6 million Twitter users saw the tweets — 600,000 more than state’s population.
Twitter is the forum of choice for political wonks to get real-time updates from the Montana Legislature — and for plenty of partisan provocation.
The contentious Medicaid debate helped the joke take hold, as did the way the gaffe poked at AFP’s out-of-state ties.
Americans for Prosperity has spent millions in recent elections to oppose Democratic candidates and the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The “dark money” organization has chapters in more than 30 states but was founded by support from the billionaire Koch brothers of Wichita, Kan.
Earlier this year, AFP-Montana targeted Republican lawmakers who wouldn’t sign a pledge against Medicaid expansion, going so far as to hold “Healthcare Town Halls” in their hometowns.
Its Montana state director, Zach Lahn, served previously as the state director for then-Rep. Steve Daines and managed his 2012 congressional campaign.
He acknowledged the error Monday but said in an email statement that it was the smaller of two mistakes made last week.
“The latter mistake will have a devastating impact on state budget and the lives of Montanans who have made it known that they reject Obamacare,” Lahn wrote.