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AARP distances itself from ad by Colorado United for Families

Author: Joey Bunch - July 3, 2018 - Updated: July 3, 2018

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In a political ad about hikes, the left-leaning Colorado United for Families went too far, says AARP.

The venerable non-partisan advocacy organization for older Americans was cited as a source for one of the super PAC’s claims against U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, D-Cortez.

Wednesday afternoon AARP sent out a statement saying it didn’t authorize the ad.

“The ad is funded by a PAC and targets a political candidate by utilizing a quote from AARP’s 2017 healthcare campaign,” AARP’s Colorado director, Bob Murphy, told Colorado Politics in an email. “AARP is non-partisan; we neither support nor contribute to any candidates or political party. We want to be abundantly clear that AARP had nothing to do with the ad.”

Colorado United for Families did not have an immediate on-the-record response to AARP’s position. But it is not uncommon for political ads to cite outside sources — especially the media — who do not otherwise have a relationship to the ad.

Tipton is facing Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush in the general election.

“It highlights the increasing health care costs for Coloradans, much of which can be traced to votes Congressman Scott Tipton has taken,” said Kaitlyn Randol, a spokesperson for Colorado United for Families. “We sourced information from the AARP because they are well-researched, provide reliable information and analysis, and are trusted by millions of Americans.”

The ad, called “More Hikes,” is the second the PAC has released against Tipton to pin increases in insurance premiums on Republicans ahead of November’s mid-term election. Colorado United for Families characterized it as a six-figure buy in Grand Junction and Colorado Springs.

AARP’s formal statement said:

“AARP has a proud 32-year history of non-partisan voter engagement, providing voters with information on where the candidates stand on issues important to our members and their families, so they can make their own decisions on Election Day.

“We urge all candidates to address voters’ concerns on issues like Medicare, Social Security, prescription drugs, Medicaid, and caregiving.

“We also encourage our members and all Americans to ask questions so they understand where the candidates stand on these and other important issues and choose the candidates that best reflect their views and values.

“Ultimately, we ask that AARP members and Americans sign the pledge at aarp.org/vote, be the difference in this election, and vote.”

AARP, however, has made some of the same points as the Colorado United for Families ad in its TV advertising, but without naming parties or singling out candidates.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.