Questions Arise in Third Congressional District Whether Democrat Challenger Dean Phillips Offers Health Benefits to His Employees

Dean Phillips

Minnesota Democrat Dean Phillips likes to think of health care as a “moral right,” but it was recently brought to light that the candidate doesn’t appear to provide health benefits to his own employees.

In a recent attack ad produced by the Congressional Leadership Fund, Phillips is outed as being worth “up to $77 million” but saying “no to health care for his own workers.”

“Dean Phillips loves coffee, conversation, and hypocrisy,” the ad says of the owner of Minneapolis’ Penny’s Coffee. “Dean Phillips: the worst kind of hypocrisy.”

On the campaign trail, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party candidate for Minnesota’s Third Congressional District has repeatedly called health care a “moral right,” starting with a June 2017 Forbes interview when he announced his bid for Congress.

“I do believe like education, health care should be a moral right. And I believe there’s a way to do so using the resources that are currently consumed by the system,” Phillips told Forbes.

“Just as we provide a public option of education with those good options for private, parochial and charters for others, I believe in the possibility of creating a similar system of health care that affords public options at a baseline level of quality care, and certainly affords private care for those who have the resources,” the DFL-backed candidate elaborated.

Later in the interview, however, Phillips was cornered into admitting that his own entrepreneurial enterprises don’t provide employees with health insurance.

“No, we don’t. We are contemplating a pretty significant expansion, which would necessitate a re-investigation of that, but right now, we’re just a single coffee shop with a handful of employees, and that’s something we’ll assess moving forward,” he responded. His Penny’s Coffee Shop does pay its workers a $15 minimum wage, which is another policy-platform the candidate seems to support.

After the ad was released, Phillips’ campaign claimed on Facebook that the candidate now offers “health insurance benefits to full-time employees,” though did not elaborate any further.

Phillips will compete against long-time incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) in November’s election.

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
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