Congressional Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act—so a former Trump volunteer wants to repeal his donations to the party.
Robert Heghmann is a former Trump campaign volunteer, and a sworn enemy of ObamaCare. In a lawsuit filed in Virginia’s Eastern District Court on Thursday, Heghmann says he and fellow Republicans had donated to the GOP with the understanding that the party would repeal the ACA once they took control of Congress.
But Republicans’ doomed repeal efforts last month left Heghmann feeling scammed. He accuses the party of running a racketeering and mail fraud scheme to rip off anti-ObamaCare donors—and he wants the GOP to return every donation it received since 2013.
Heghmann, 70, contributed “well over $1,000 supporting Republican Party Events and Republican Candidates based upon the pledge... that if Republicans contributed money and votes to the Republican Party and Republicans successfully took control of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, Republicans in Congress would Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” he claims in his lawsuit.
(Federal Election Committee filings only list $750 in donations under Heghmann’s name. Heghmann could not be reached for comment.)
Senate Republicans’ attempts to repeal the ACA last month were met with national outrage. Protesters risked arrest to demonstrate outside congressional offices. Republicans huddled to draft a repeal bill in secret and moved to proceed on the mystery bill, before their efforts crashed and burned in a late-night vote. But the GOP’s failure wasn’t the result of a half-baked bill or intra-party dissent, Heghmann’s suit argues: Republicans never actually planned to repeal the ACA.
“As early as November, 2012, the leaders of the Republican Party knew that the Republican Party was not going to Repeal and Replace Obamacare,” his suit reads. “After the Re-election of President Obama in the November 2012 election, Speaker John Boehner admitted that Obamacare was not going to be repealed. Speaking to reporters he stated flatly, ‘Obamacare is now the law of the land.’"
But Republicans kept fundraising on the promise of an ACA repeal. Since Boehner’s admission, the GOP and its branch in Virginia (Heghmann’s home state) have “collected over $735 Million by promising that the Republican Party would ‘Repeal and Replace’ Obamacare,” Heghmann writes in his suit. “That promise was false and fraudulent.”
The alleged fraud was baked into the GOP’s now-debunked 2016 presidential election platform, which promised that a “Republican president, on the first day in office, will use legitimate waiver authority under the law to halt its advance and then, with the unanimous support of Congressional Republicans, will sign its repeal." Heghmann correctly notes that this did not happen.
If Republicans do not repeal the ACA, Heghmann wants a court to force the party into returning all donations from 2013 until present.
The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Virginia did not return The Daily Beast’s requests for comment.
Morton Blackwell, a member of the RNC’s Virginia leadership team told the Virginian-Pilot that Heghmann’s suit was “frivolous” but “sign of conservative anger that the Republican-controlled Congress has not yet repealed and replaced Obamacare.”
Heghmann is far from the first Republican to attack his own party over its repeal failure. During Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Heghmann co-chaired Trump’s operations in Carroll County, New Hampshire, a county that accidentally listed a journalist as a chair, forcing the journalist to contact the Trump campaign asking to be removed from its New Hampshire literature. (The journalist’s vacated seat was awarded to an 18-year-old.)
On the morning of the Senate’s most recent ACA repeal vote, Trump took to Twitter to cheer on what many viewed as an uphill effort for Senate Republicans.
“Come on Republican Senators, you can do it on Healthcare. After seven years, this is your chance to shine! Don't let the American people down!” Trump tweeted.
The following morning, when the sun rose on a thoroughly trounced GOP bill, Trump tweeted again to voice his disgust with “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats” who “let the American people down.”
Heghmann claims that was the plan all along.