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Foster wants apology for health care robo calls
No one has claimed responsibility
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Randy Hultgren



Bill Foster


Dan Kairis


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Published: 3/26/2010 12:01 AM

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Congressman Bill Foster's campaign is crying foul over a new telephone poll is says is trying to measure how voters feel about Foster's recent vote in support of health care reform.

None of Foster's rivals in the 14th Congressional District race claim responsibility for the poll. In fact, some doubt the poll even exists.

Matt Snodgrass, political director of the Foster campaign, said the calls come from a phone number that shows up as (202) 888-4063. The area code for Washington, D.C. is 202. Snodgrass said that's part of a setup that makes the call seem as if it's coming from the Foster campaign.

The call/poll asks if "my (Foster's) vote in favor of health care would make it more likely or not" that the person would vote for Foster in November. If the person receiving the call selected a response supporting Foster, the automated poll would indicate it was unable to read the reply. The call never says where it originated nor who paid for the poll.

"These calls are designed to confuse voters about who is placing the calls and anger those that supported Rep. Foster's vote to reform our health insurance system," Snodgrass said in a written statement.

"There are only a few groups and individuals that these calls might help, and whomever is responsible should apologize for this tactic because the families of the 14th District deserve better."

None of Foster's opponents said they had any knowledge of the poll's existence.

"I don't know who did it," said John Cooney, a spokesman for Randy Hultgren's campaign. "We certainly didn't."

Hultgren recently blasted Foster for his support of the health care bill.

"The Foster/Obama plan will raise costs for Illinois families, explode the budget deficit, cut Medicare and put a bureaucrat between you and your doctor," Hultgren said of Foster's vote. "I support comprehensive health care reform, but only reform that preserves and protects access to lifesaving medical care while lowering costs and expanding access to care for the uninsured."

Green Party candidate Dan Kairis said he's not behind the call. Like Hultgren, Kairis believes the new health care legislation doesn't solve the problem.

"The bureaucracy is the problem," Kairis said. "The system is fundamentally flawed. Until you take care of some of those fundamental flaws, all the lipstick in the world isn't going to make it any better."

Kairis said he's not convinced the new law does anything to address discrepancies among procedures one insurance company will cover that another may not. Kairis also doesn't see how the new law prevents insurance companies from charging an unaffordable rate to people with pre-existing conditions even if they are forced to provide some coverage.

Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee not only denied being behind the phone poll, but also suggested there may not even be a poll. When asked, Snodgrass could not provide any actual audio of the phone poll. He said the details of the poll come from notes constituents took when receiving the phone call for the poll.

"Seeing that the Foster campaign is so concerned with transparency and openness, I think the least they could do is provide irrefutable evidence that back up their claims that calls are being made," said NRCC Spokesman Tom Erickson. "Sounds a lot like a PR stunt manufactured to elicit sympathy to me."