TOPEKA -- A tea party group is standing behind a television ad attacking Sen. Pat Roberts in his Republican primary race with challenger Milton Wolf, even though the senator's campaign produced documentation against the spot's claim.
The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund ad says Roberts took a "special exemption" from the federal health care overhaul for himself and his Senate staff. The group backs Wolf, a Leawood radiologist as Roberts seeks his fourth, six-year term.
The group disclosed last week that it spent $89,000 to produce the ad and buy time statewide, just days before Tuesday's election. The federal overhaul, championed by Democratic President Barack Obama, is unpopular with Kansas Republicans, and group spokesman Kevin Broughton said it believes the issue can "move the needle" in the race.
"We wanted to get on the air and do our best to educate Kansas Republican primary voters," he said.
Roberts' staff produced a letter from the Senate's financial clerk to show that the senator and his staff buy insurance through a marketplace set up by the District of Columbia under the federal law. The letter tells Roberts that in October 2013, "you opted not to exempt any of your staff."
The tea party group said Monday that the special exemption is a federal subsidy for the coverage. Broughton had termed it "generous."
But Roberts' executive campaign manager, Leroy Towns, said the so-called subsidy is the federal government's contribution to employees' health insurance, like the contributions other employers make for their workers.