The Koch Brothers’ ‘Obamacare Victim’ Owns Property with the County GOP Party Chair

julie boonstra

It’s an ad so misleading that even conservatives won’t back its Obamacare claims. In the Americans for Prosperity ad aimed at destroying Michigan Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Gary Peters, Julie Boonstra inaccurately claims that Obamacare is threatening her cancer treatment and that it “jeopardized my health.”

She said her life was on the line due to Obamacare, “Now, the out-of-pocket costs are so high, it’s unaffordable. If I do not receive my medication, I will die.” That’s a really strong accusation, so it drew a lot of attention, and it turned out to be more Koch brothers baloney.

When called out on the facts, the Koch Brothers SuperPAC, Americans for Prosperity, and the GOP claimed people were picking on a cancer victim, as if they couldn’t tell the difference between personal attacks and fact-checking.

But Chris Savage, publisher of EclectaBlog, revealed that the alleged “Obamacare victim” from the Koch Brothers ad shares property in Dexter, Michigan with former Washtenaw County GOP chair, Mark Boonstra.

Savage wrote on his site EclectaBlog that it seems like more than just the AFP are taking advantage of Julie Boonstra:

As far as Julie Boonstra being taken advantage of, I don’t think it’s just AFP that’s involved. She owns a home property with the former chair of the Washtenaw County Republican Party Mark Boonstra, a vacant lot next to Mr. Boonstra’s Dexter home.

Dexter is a very small town outside of Ann Arbor.

Mr. Boonstra is no political novice. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in applied economics and a law degree from the University of Michigan.

And he’s no non-partisan. Mr. Boonstra is a member of the self described conservative and libertarian Federalists Society. In 2012, Mr. Boonstra was appointed by Republican Governor Rick Synder to serve on the Michigan Court of Appeals. This makes sense, since Boonstra is from the Ann Arbor area, as is Rick Synder. Boonstra resides in Dexter, which is just outside of Ann Arbor, and is also the location of the property he shares with the “Obamacare victim”.

Boonstra was also the Washtenaw County GOP Chair.

From his bio, “Boonstra has served as senior principal for the Miller Canfield law firm, located on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor, since 1985. He previously worked as a law clerk for Judge Ralph B. Guy Jr. of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan.”

The law prohibits coordination between a political party or candidate’s campaign and a PAC. This is exactly what got True the Vote in trouble, when the tea party group was ruled by a judge to have engaged in illegal activities by supporting Republicans in Texas. This same group then presented themselves as “victims” of the IRS, and the media sold that to the people as proof of the IRS targeting conservatives. This lie has since been thoroughly debunked.

Mr. Boonstra’s close association with the debunked ‘Obamacare victim’ in the ad brings up the question of whether or not the Republican Party is coordinating their ads with Americans for Prosperity. If they are, that’s a violation of the law. And it also suggests that it’s not that easy to find someone to star in their ads full of lies.

In this case, it’s tough not to feel for Julie Boonstra, who is already in a fight with cancer. To add insult to injury, she was then used in a commercial notorious for being deceptive. Most likely she had no idea of the facts, and is just another misled victim of the corporate campaign to steal healthcare from the people. The people who used her thusly owe her a public apology. She got it wrong, but she was scared. People who knew better exploited her.

The attention should be on Boonstra’s association with the GOP party chair, and whether or not he coordinated with Julie Boonstra or AFP or the Koch Brothers or their associates in any way in order to create this ad.


Note: EclectaBlog has a screengrab of the property records in which they redacted personal info, which I verified directly. I am not linking to those records directly for privacy reasons.

48 Replies to “The Koch Brothers’ ‘Obamacare Victim’ Owns Property with the County GOP Party Chair”

  1. I don’t feel sorry for Ms. Boonstra. She knew she was participating in a largely fraudulent advertisement. She is not dumb. She is a willing pawn of the Koch Brothers, their brother-in-arms Rick Snyder and the Michigan GOP.

    By being the voice of this advertisement she deliberately misled thousands if not millions of people who will benefit from the ACA. How selfish can a woman be?

    In addition the Boonstra name has been a prominent conservative GOP name in Michigan for quite a few years. It is unfortunate that this Mr. Boonstra is soon to be on the MI Court of Appeals.

    As soon as I heard that the so-called “victim’s” name was Boonstra I knew she was a shill for the conservative cause.

  2. I don’t imagine any of this will make headlines like the ad did when it first came out and how she was being picked on because now people hate me and I am fighting cancer. Just so stressful. I am sorry that she has cancer but I think she brought the criticism on herself. A person should be very careful of the facts before partaking of the “15 minutes of fame” syndrome.

  3. This is a crock!!! I live 20 minutes from Dexter. Dexter, MI is a very affluent area. She can afford everything she needs.

  4. And you can bet the Koch bros, with all their billions, won’t spend a dime to help this woman, as her death would be too politically valuable.

  5. Business writer at the LA Times, Michael Hiltzik, has done excellent investigation of these many stories. He pointed out every lie she raised, every misrepresentation she gave.

    Although LAT now requires that you pay for features (not awfully expensive) it’s worth it to follow him. He’s also on Twitter. He has made a very serious point of truth telling about the Boonstras of our nation and the substance of ACA facts.

  6. In the long run, none of these adds matter. People on the extreme right believe what they believe because they want it to be true. The battle lines are so clearly drawn that it makes almost no difference what happens between now and November. The Democratic party can stop engaging these douchebags in a useless debate (We get it. The Ads are lies) and focus their energy where it’s really needed, or lose to Gerrymandering in the mid-terms. What are we doing to help with voter disenfranchisement? How many people have we assisted in getting government IDs? How many people have we educated about early voting and absentee ballots? Where’s our place to bus the poor to the polling place on Election day? Again, liars believe liars because they want to believe liars. Stop engaging these nutjobs, who are doing an excellent job of distracting us from the important tasks at hand.

  7. So, what has Mark Boonstra got to do with Julie Boonstra? I don’t get the connection. Even if they are connected somehow, what difference does it make? At least Julie had the guts to say something. Besides that, Julie is not lying–she is just not telling the whole story, because reality has not hit her yet. I know exactly what she is saying because, I am in the same situation, dealing with a chronic/terminal illness. The true facts are in the details, which no one has fully explained. Because the Obamcare-compliant policy networks are so narrow, a person with a chronic/terminal illness, will inevitably have to go out-of-NETWORK to get the care they need. Out-of-NETWORK expenses are out-of-POCKET, with no annual or lifetime cap.

  8. these people are desperate & don’t care about anybody but themselves. I hope the lies stop & people wake up to the b.s. the koch bros. spew.

  9. We should bravely go into CON Websites and discredit their lies! Give links to articles, Eclectablog and other sites of truth uncovering the terrible misinformation they’re being fed.

    Slowly they will start to realize they’re been filled with lies, fear and total American disharmony!

  10. The networks are not narrow, the major providers will not carry them. In my situation, I have BCBS who then contracts with COnvenant health(our local provider that runs all the doctors here) NOT to carry their insurance. You have Obamacare? Thats nice but we wont treat you

  11. The sad thing being is that there is no such thing as “having Obamacare”. There are insurance policies. Coven (ant) Medical doesn’t know whether anyone bought their policy on the exchange or not.

  12. Yes they do.

    with BCBS they created a new Network for marketplace purchases. Network E. Covenant Health will not accept Network E. Across the entire eastern part of Tennessee. If you purchased insurance through the marketplace you will not be covered unless its a small clinic not run by Covenant.

  13. You are so right, that is what we need to worry about, is getting people ready to vote, making sure they have all their paper work in order. We did it for the electing of the president and we have to keep it and we have to keep encouraging the people to vote in these off election as well. I feel a lot of them are getting it since the 2010 election they never dream that their rights would be taken away from them so openly and fast until the teaparty came in and start making a big wide sweep of things. Then the president finish it by letting the american people see just how much the republicans really cared about them when every budget deal came around who the republicans wanted to protect the most and who they wanted to hang out in the cold . The republicans fought hard to keep the tax revenues for the super rich but fought harder for tax cuts on the poor and the middle class. Any thing that would help the poor and the middle class the republicans is total against.

  14. It’s amazing to see the difference between the posts on this site versus some of the conservative sites that are linked to some of these articles. The amount of hate and vitriol and utter ignorance and total brainwashed mentality on those sites is mind numbing. The comments here are like a breath of fresh air and intellect compared to the stench of those totally depressing sites. Thanks for being civil, smart and (most importantly) knowing how to spell and construct a simple sentence!

  15. When people participate in fraudulent ads, whether it is Obamacare, a get rich quick scheme, phony auction site, etc, they should be arrested and put in jail for deceptive advertising and fraud.

  16. You don’t know her financial situation! Just because someone lives in an affluent area does not mean that they are not strapped with debt to live that lifestyle. I’m not saying that if this is the case that it isn’t her fault, but you seriously can’t just say that you know she can afford anything she wants. That is an out of line statement. And keep in mind, I support more democrats than republicans and am in full support of the ACA. But we can’t go around pretending we know someone else’s situation unless we are living in their situation.

  17. It sounds to me like this hospital has more money than they need. The thing they’re not taking in to account is that all insurance as of January 1, 2014 is Obamacare. If they stay on the course they’re on, they won’t be taking in any patients and they will go belly up. They can’t run on that basis for long. The insurance companies, EVERY one of them are being regulated by Obamacare (ACA). They’re only hurting themselves.

  18. No, this only applies to Marketplace insurances. Anyone who has a job and gets their insurance there, is no problem. Its just the ones that the insurance companys set aside that come from the marketplace

  19. Insurance companies was doing this before ACA, taking drs, hospital and pharamcy out of network from time to time. Nothing new. They all had to sign contracts every year or two years and a lot of time you just didn’t know it. Also most of the time you had to pick PPO in order to keep your dr because with HMO you had to have a primary care dr. and it had to be in network. All that was before ACA. Also premiums was increased every year before ACA as well as copay so we need to stop pretending that it didn’t happen when it did. People got kicked off insurance for any reason, they got denied for any reason, the prices was raised for any reason, a treatment was denied for any reason. You may act stupid and want to go back to that and then when it happen wish for someone to get you out the mess again, wake up act like you have some sense and tell republicans to work to make it better, improve it, to get more people cover.

  20. Eric, please bookmark and keep coming back to Politicususa! I’ve never found a more fast moving, news site anywhere else on the web! Reading intelligent articles and comments here shows a whole new evolved level of sincere, empathic, concerned and involved Americans from all over our great nation!

    Mark Twain once said,
    “I’m not part of any organized Political Party…I’m a Democrat”.

    Well, Let’s get ‘Organized’, fellow travelers. Imagine what we could do to change the trajectory of America!

  21. It DOES matter if innocent people desperately needing health care don’t enroll. Pushing back on lies is critical in a democracy or the lies fester, spread, and pollute the national understanding. The choices of issues is not ours – they all need addressing. If voter registration is yours, go for it! We will help even if reaching out and assuring truth and reality on health care is ours. Progressives lose when tests of purity lead us to try to divert others from the issues they care about.

    If one family loses their home, savings, maybe lives over the failure to enroll, it matters just as much as the loss of one vote through GOP fraud and abuse of our system.

  22. Shiva – all new insurance policies now must be ACA compliant on coverage and services.

    Anyone going out of system has always had problems. When in CA employers looked to save money and pushed their employees into Kaiser – quite good but not the ONLY good – people could not go to any other system.

    Every are has PPOs that DO let you go out of system if necessary, but the idea that you always could and now cannot is just wrong. Fundamentally nothing has yet changed on that score unless you have a PPO – and even then yes, you always did and still will pay more.

  23. This has nothing to do with being compliant. Covenant Health of Tennessee will not accept any marketplace insurance policys. Covenant services most of Eat Tennessee. They run the clinics, several hospitals and other medical supply outlets.

    They are very proud to be koch kids.In fact when the manager at my clinic told me I was no longer qualified to be a patient she was almost jumping with joy.

    But I forgot i lived in the bible belt, where people love to hate thy neighbor

  24. Ummm wait a minute just because she owns property doesn’t mean she couldn’t be adversly affected by the ACA. This article is as bad as the TV ad!

  25. I swear we just talked about this today. We were sure there had to be another side to this story. Thanks for letting us know the truth.

  26. @Shiva

    What can we do to help you get this sorted out? I can’t believe BCBS can legally sell policies that have no providers in their geographic area.

  27. There are a very few small clinics and doctors that will take it. I will have to drive a distance. But like others I have lost a very good doctor, but I dont blame the ACA

    As far as I am concerned this is collusion between BCBS of Tn and Covenant Health. Covenant Health operates quite a few hospitals. This is also a very Red state and I think they are simply going along with the other states that refuse to accept Marketplace policys. BCBS can sell all the policies they want, but that doesnt mean everyone has to honor them.

    The only thing that can be done is lots and lots of bad publicity. These people are proud they have shut thousands out of having a good local doctor and clinic. Almost every day I tweet them and the governor and ask how many they have killed today. No answer but I am expecting a knock on the door

  28. Actually, this woman has divulged how much she paid for her prior insurance policy per month: $1,100, and she pays about $560 per month for the Obamacare/ACA policy. Supposedly her out of pocket will be nearly identical to within a few dollars, but it will be higher and more sporadic with Obamacare. She is seeing the same doctors at UofM in Ann Arbor and receiving the same oral cancer treatments, so none of that has changed.

    The details of what she was paying seemed kind of strange. It seems like she would have had better options in Obamacare with a better plan and lower deductibles. She was already paying over $1,100 a month, buying the best plan may have been no big deal. The right-wing talking points machine changes the subject when the woman is questioned. Instead of defending her story they go into completely different claims. It’s obvious that they are having trouble finding people with real stories that denigrate Obamacare.

  29. Fred, it seems to me that the Republicans believe that the public does not deserve the truth. The Republican carnies are running their circus and their marks are eagerly doing what they want and paying for it too.

  30. Sarah, I do not want to dismiss your own personal problems or experience with Obamacare. But the woman in that commercial is getting the exact same medications from the same doctors at the same hospital. She supposedly paid $1,100 a month with her past insurer and now pays about $560 a month for her Obamacare plan.

    The biggest problem with the commercial is that it insinuates that she isn’t getting her medication, seeing her doctor or being treated at the same hospital. I also want to express the most sincere wishes that you have smooth sailing to deal with Obamacare and your medical needs. The last thing someone in your situation needs is more stress.

  31. I’ve kind of been wondering if insurance companies would try to differentiate a policy that comes from the ACA exchange as being different than one obtained through employment. The plans could be exactly identical in deductibles, etc., yet the ACA plan could allow for providers to not participate based the name given by the insurer for the policy.

    Another thing that is very strange is that no one from the ranks of health insurance professionals mentioned that policies would be canceled or that their catastrophic plans would quite obviously be too deficient to the ACA to even amend. This had to have been a topic of discussion within the health insurance industry for years. It’s a bit frightening that insurance providers may be subtly trying to sabotage Obamacare and hurt those using it.

  32. Republicans are world class liars. If their mouths are open, they are exercising their craft. For the sake of our National integrity, their party must see the error of their ways or disband.

  33. This is above and below politics. Where is the FCC? This was a blatant lie- false advertising if you will by the CokeHead Brothers. What is the legal penalty? Fines?
    Can’t just let this go.

  34. Frankly I’d like to know the relationship between the two Boonstras, the “victim” and the soon-to-be-judge. There must be one and it’s curious that no one has mentioned what it is. Too much of a coincidence for two people with the same last name to “share” property and not have a family connection. It might have been appropriate for Mr. Boonstra to talk Ms. Boonstra out of the ad given that he is about to become a judge who might have to rule on insurance cases. But the reality is that conservative Boonstras are frequently found in Michigan, like snow and sleet in winter.

    The ad is deliberately misleading. It impugns Rep. Peters and it smears President Obama. So, as far as the Koch Brothers are concerned, it’s a two-fee. The ad is meant for the lower end of the GOP intelligence spectrum, the people who only watch Fox News, the people the Koch Brothers use but for whom they would do nothing.

  35. I did that once through email. Erik Erickerson published my email and I got some scary hate emails. Not good.

  36. I live in Idaho and as of January 1, 2014 have insurance through Select Health, only because I was lucky enough to squeak over the $11,500.00 required in my state; otherwise, I would have had to depend on Medicaid and as you all probably know, Idaho is not going to expand Medicaid for quite some time. The legislators here will have to be shamed into helping their poor. It is very sad. But I am lucky this year because I went in for an annual exam and discovered I am healthy (other than an under-achieving thyroid). I am so relieved to have health insurance now. I dislocated my elbow a couple of years ago and couldn’t pay for the emergency room or the follow up care and St. Luke’s based on my income forgave all my debt. I am so grateful for their kindness to me; but, simultaneously I wish I could have paid them. When catastrophe strikes, it is so frightening. I am so grateful for the Affordable Care Act/ Obamacare. Many people will be healthier because of it.

  37. I agree with you Fred. A favorite teacher I knew in college had a poster on her door that read, “Ignorance is expensive.” So true. Ignorance hurts everyone. I plan to do more this year – not just vote.

  38. An Intelius search on Mark Boonstra lists Julie Boonstra as a relative. I’ve seen several comments on Michigan blogs from locals that say she is his ex-wife and the mother of his children. Dexter is a small town, and it would be quite the coincidence if Mark was not somehow involved in this ad.

    By the way, Julie now appears in a melodramatic new ad, claiming that Rep. Peters is trying to discredit and silence her, even though her claims have been debunked by many others. It should play well to the targeted audience. http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/senate-races/199793-cancer-patient-fires-back-at-gary-peters-in-new-koch-brothers

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