SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Aug. 13 As the debate over health care reform heats up, an effort to place a billboard in U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt's home district has been, well, blunted.
The billboard was to have featured a picture of Blunt with the words: "Roy Blunt has taken $556,682 in contributions from the insurance industry. Is that why he won't take our side on health care reform?"
USAction and its Missouri affiliate, Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, had arranged to place the billboard in downtown Springfield. However, the groups were informed Thursday that it was being rejected based on political content.
"Roy Blunt, the target of this smear campaign, is a local politician and has been a strong proponent of Outdoor Advertising in Missouri for a number of years," Lamar Advertising Company said in an email message. "As much as we would always love the business, we will have to respectfully decline."
The move comes after Blunt tried, and failed, to have a radio spot taken off the air pointing out that the senior Republican congressman has taken more than half a million dollars worth of campaign contributions from the insurance industry and is working to defeat health care reform. A second radio ad - currently running on four Springfield stations -- also points out that Blunt has questioned the worthiness of Medicare.
USAction Program Director Alan Charney said alternate plans are being made to get the word out about Blunt's connections to the insurance industry and refusal to support quality, affordable health care for his constituents. "We're guessing that there are newspapers in Congressman Blunt's district that would welcome our business and won't discriminate based on content," Charney said.
Julie Burkhart, executive director of Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, added that Blunt should stand up for his constituents' ability to afford health care as strongly as he has stood for Missouri's outdoor billboard industry. "After all," she said, "Billboards don't get sick or get dropped from coverage or see their premiums double. People do."
Note to reporters, producers and bloggers: You can view a PDF of the rejected billboard at www.usaction.org/bluntbillboard.