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Dr. Mehmet Oz appears at a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa., on April 2, 2022. (AP) Dr. Mehmet Oz appears at a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa., on April 2, 2022. (AP)

Dr. Mehmet Oz appears at a forum for Republican candidates for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Camp Hill, Pa., on April 2, 2022. (AP)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher April 28, 2022

If Your Time is short

  • Oz appeared in one ad promoting the Affordable Care Act, for a California foundation. The ad was not about defunding the police and Oz was not hired as a spokesperson for the foundation.

  • Although Oz appeared in the 2010 ad promoting Obamacare, he has criticized the law while campaigning for Senate.

  • Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Oz advocated for the U.S. following China’s lead on quarantines as a way to reduce the spread of the virus. After announcing his Senate run, he said he opposes shutdowns and lockdowns.

  • Oz had ownership in, but not supervision over, a company that hired immigrants who were not legally allowed to work in the U.S.

One of 2022’s biggest-spending super PACs is devoted to opposing the campaign of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the swing state of Pennsylvania.

In a 30-second TV ad, Pennsylvania Conservative Fund makes a four-part claim against the TV personality, saying:

Oz "was a spokesman for a group who wanted to defund the police, a pitchman for Obamacare, a doctor who advised the U.S. to follow the Communist Chinese on COVID and backed a company that knowingly hired illegal immigrants."

A second TV ad from the same group made almost exactly the same claims.

Pennsylvania Conservative Fund has spent millions campaigning against Oz

Pennsylvania Conservative Fund is a super PAC formed to oppose Oz’s campaign. Super PACs can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to advocate for or against candidates.

From Jan. 1 through March 31, the fund raised $3.5 million and spent $3.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. All the expenditures were in opposition to Oz. The expenditures put the fund among the top eight super PAC spenders in the 2022 cycle, according to the nonprofit Open Secrets.

Pennsylvania Conservative Fund doesn’t have a website. It lists its physical address and email address with the commission as those for a campaign finance consulting company in Athens, Ga. 

We messaged that email address but didn’t get a reply. The two ads list footnotes indicating sources for the four parts of its claim. 

Here are the facts on each of the four parts of the attack on Oz. 

‘A spokesman for a group who wanted to defund the police’

This is False.

The Pennsylvania Conservative Fund ties this claim to Oz’s appearance in one ad for the California Endowment in 2010. But in that ad, Oz was promoting the Affordable Care Act. It had nothing to do with defunding the police

Oz’s involvement with the group was limited to that one ad; he did not work directly for the California Endowment.

Oz was never hired as a spokesperson for California Endowment, said Oz’s campaign and the California Endowment.

California Endowment’s president has advocated for transferring resources from police to other services. In recent years, the endowment has given $5 million in grants to Black-led organizations working on law enforcement issues; that’s part of its 10-year, $225 million pledge to support racial justice. 

Oz is campaigning against defunding the police.

‘A pitchman for Obamacare’

This is based on Oz’s California Endowment ad, in which he urged viewers to visit the foundation’s website to learn more about the Affordable Care Act.

"Right here, right now, there is a historic opportunity to do just that, to make health care better for millions of Californians, to make health care better and more affordable for you," Oz said in the 2010 ad. "The new health care law has so much in it that could help Californians get better and more affordable health care, but it’s up to the people of this state — and its elected leaders — to make sure that you get all you can out of the new law."

Oz did the ad "around the law that was designed to give more people coverage," said Oz campaign spokesperson Brittany Yanick. "That's not the problem with Obamacare. The problem is that it didn't deal with the important issue of costs."

‘Advised the U.S. to follow the Communist Chinese on COVID’

This is accurate, based on what Oz said early in the COVID-19 outbreak, though he later disavowed those remarks.

Early in the pandemic, Oz advocated for the U.S. following China’s lead on quarantines as a way to reduce the spread of the virus.

Asked on NBC News on March 16, 2020, about the biggest obstacles to the U.S. curbing the outbreak of coronavirus cases, Oz said that China’s quarantining of Wuhan province, where the outbreak originated, helped the rest of the country. He said:

"If you look inside of Wuhan province, they had a catastrophe. But outside the province — which, of course, they quarantined in the largest movement of its nature ever, 60 million people blocked in that space. But the rest of the country was relatively spared. They didn’t have the spikes, the huge crises that Wuhan experienced and it took the country in a very different direction. We just have to copy what they did, take their blueprint and repeat it here in this country, and we started that aggressively over the last week." 

Oz said many in the U.S. would label shutdowns or limiting the size of public gatherings as "draconian."

In December 2021, days after announcing his Senate run, the Washington Examiner reported that Oz disavowed his remarks. Oz told the Examiner: "China lied to the world about COVID-19, what they were doing, what was working to contain the virus, and where it originated, and they should be held accountable for those lies. I am opposed to shutdowns and lockdowns."

‘Backed a company that knowingly hired illegal immigrants’

This needs context. 

Oz had ownership in a company that hired immigrants who were not legally allowed to work in the U.S. Oz was not a supervisor of the company.

The TV ad is talking about a 2017 announcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Asplundh Tree Experts Co. of Pennsylvania had agreed to pay $95 million for hiring immigrants who could not legally work in the United States. It was the largest civil settlement agreement of its time.

The New York Post reported that Asplundh Tree Experts was co-founded by the maternal grandfather of Oz’s wife and remains controlled by family members. Dr. Oz was listed as a company "shareholder." He had no role in running the company, his campaign told the newspaper.

Oz "has not worked in or managed at any level" the company, Yanick told PolitiFact.

Contest could help decide Senate control

The Pennsylvania race is for the seat held by Republican Pat Toomey, who was first elected in 2010 and decided not to seek re-election. 

Besides Oz, the major Republican candidates are commentator Kathy Barnette, real estate developer Jeff Bartos, Philadelphia attorney George Bochetto, former hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick and Carla Sands, who served as former President Donald Trump's ambassador to Denmark. 

The leading Democratic candidates are Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta and U.S. Rep.  Conor Lamb.

The primaries are May 17. Overall, the Nov. 8 general election race is rated as a toss-up and as "tilts Republican." The outcome could help determine which party controls the Senate, now split 50-50.

RELATED: Attack on Senate hopeful Oz is wrong that he was spokesman for group that wanted to defund police 

RELATED: The race for the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat: A guide

RELATED: Fact-checks in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race

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Our Sources, Pennsylvania Conservative Fund "Secret Hollywood Liberal" ad, accessed April 21, 2022, Pennsylvania Conservative Fund "Behind the Curtain" ad, accessed April 21, 2022

Email, Mehmet Oz campaign communications director Brittany Yanick, April 22, 2022, "Philanthropy’s New Activism in Public Safety," July 27, 2021

YouTube, "The California Endowment — Dr. Oz: Find out what the new health law can do for you," Nov. 3, 2010

Los Angeles Times, "Time to ‘get over it’ and use the healthcare law, says Dr. Oz," Nov. 1, 2010

CNN, "Fact check: Misleading claims in attack ads against Pennsylvania GOP Senate candidates Oz and McCormick," April 8, 2022, "Misleading ‘Defund the Police’ Attack on Dr. Oz," March 23, 2022

WGAL-TV, "Ad Watch: Fact-checking ad attacking Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz," March 3, 2022

WGAL-TV, "Ad Watch: Fact-checking PAC ad against Republican US Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz," April 17, 2022, "Ads Attacking Dr. Oz," March 17, 2022, "Law enforcement," accessed April 21, 2022

NBC News, "Restrictions on daily life grow as U.S. death toll climbs," March 16, 2020

Washington Examiner, "Dr. Oz disavows past support for lockdowns," Dec. 7, 2021

New York Post, "Family company of Dr. Oz had largest fine in ICE history," Feb. 12, 2022

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, "Asplundh Tree Experts, Co. pays largest civil settlement agreement ever levied by ICE," Sept. 28, 2017

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More by Tom Kertscher

Fact-checking a super PAC attack on Dr. Oz over defunding police, Obamacare, COVID-19, immigration