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Republicans attack Dean Phillips’ business background in new TV ads as he competes for Rep. Erik Paulsen’s seat

September 6, 2018

Republicans are targeting Dean Phillips business background and wealth as the first-time Democratic candidate challenges Rep. Erik Paulsen for his seat in Congress.

On Wednesday, both the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC associated with House Republican leadership, and Paulsens campaign released new TV ads singling out Phillips for saying health care is a moral right while not initially offering it to employees at his Minneapolis coffee shop. Phillips campaign called the ads misleading.

The Congressional Leadership Funds ad its first one specifically for the Third Congressional District calls out Phillips for the worst kind of hypocrisy for the health insurance issue even though the business owner is worth up to $77 million, the ad says.

Paulsens campaign ad took a similar message, adding that Phillips inherited millions and failed to pay business taxes on time, calling him dishonest and a shady businessman.

In response, the Democrats campaign said Phillips and his business partners didnt have any full-time employees when they launched Pennys coffee shop in 2016; instead, they chose to pay part-time employees a $15 minimum wage so they could afford to choose their own plan through the Affordable Care Act. As the business grew to have full-time employees, he offered a health care plan that pays 50 percent of the premium.

To attack any small business owner, candidate or otherwise, for struggling to afford healthcare benefits while at the same time voting to systematically erode coverage and raise costs for millions of Americans is reprehensible, Phillips campaign said in a statement.

Phillips, whose great-grandfather started Phillips Distilling, also helped lead Talenti Gelato, which incurred an $89 interest charge for late property taxes also fodder for an attack in Paulsens ad. Phillips said in a statement that employees at both businesses received full benefits and profit-sharing.

Last year, the Congressional Leadership Fund opened its first field office in the country, in the Third District. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates but arent supposed to coordinate with campaigns.

The Third District race is shaping up to be one of Minnesotas most expensive this year.

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