A retired attorney in Virginia Beach is so incensed that Republicans couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act he’s suing to get political donations back, accusing the GOP of fraud and racketeering.
Bob Heghmann, 70, filed a lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court saying the national and Virginia Republican parties and some GOP leaders raised millions of dollars in campaign funds while knowing they weren’t going to be able to overturn the ACA, also known as Obamacare.
The GOP “has been engaged in a pattern of Racketeering which involves massive fraud perpetrated on Republican voters and contributors as well as some Independents and Democrats,” the suit said. Racketeering, perhaps better known for use in prosecuting organized crime, involves a pattern of illegal behavior by a specific group.
The suit comes a week after the Republican-controlled Senate failed by one vote to approve a bill to repeal and replace the ACA.
It argues that the national GOP raised more than $735 million and Virginia’s party more than $20 million from 2009 to 2016 in large part by promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Heghmann said he has standing to sue the GOP because has been a contributor. Federal Election Commission records show he gave a total of $875 to New Hampshire’s GOP, but no donations were noted for the national party or Virginia. He was a Granite State resident for more than a decade – and a Trump campaign volunteer there – before moving to the Beach last year.
He wants the party to either return campaign contributions to donors or exert pressure on Republican legislators to repeal the law under threat of losing GOP financial support. He acknowledged that members of the House of Representatives and Senate cannot be sued for failing to abide by campaign promises, but argued that political parties don’t have the same protections.
“If the candidates don’t deliver, it’s incumbent on the RNC to go to the candidate and say, ‘You can’t do this,’ ” Heghmann said before filing the suit, referring to the Republican National Committee.
“When you do a test case, you always want the most outrageous circumstances you can get. You want black and white; you don’t want gray. This is black and white.”
Heghmann’s suit contends that Republicans knew the GOP wouldn’t be able to repeal the health care law after President Barack Obama’s re-election in November 2012, but continued to raise money on the promise it would.
As evidence, he pointed to comments by then-House Speaker John Boehner just after Obama’s re-election.
“It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected. Obamacare is the law of the land,” the Ohio Republican said when asked if the GOP-controlled House would push again for a repeal of the 2010 health care law. “There certainly may be parts of it we believe need to be changed. Maybe we’ll do that. No decisions at this point.”
Heghmann’s suit states: “In making this statement Speaker Boehner was sending a message to House Republicans and others that Repeal was not going to happen. He was trying to put the issue to rest. … Nevertheless, the Republican Party continued to use the mails, wires and interstate commerce to solicit donations and votes to secure House and Senate majorities and ultimately the Presidency.
“Now that the Republican Party has won the House, the Senate and the Presidency the effort it is making to Repeal and Replace Obamacare is itself a Fraud upon Republican Voters and Donors.”
The “pattern of racketeering” extended to the party’s response to Trump’s candidacy, his suit states. The GOP units raised money to push the health care repeal or Trump’s promises but “never intended to implement the Trump Agenda or fulfill the promises of the Republican Platform.”
In addition to the RNC and state Republican Party, the lawsuit lists as defendants state party Chairman John Whitbeck and Virginia’s two national GOP committee members, Morton Blackwell and Cynthia Dunbar.