Claiming that the ads by the Tea Party Express in support of the Republican candidate, Joe Miller, carry false statements, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski warned TV stations that they will be held liable for running the ads. -db
October 4, 2010
By Joshua Saul
The same day the Tea Party Express released the television ads it plans on running in support of Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, a lawyer representing write-in candidate U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski sent a letter to Alaska television stations “reminding them that they will be held liable for knowingly running false advertising.”
The ad in question lays out a negative picture of Murkowski. It reminds viewers that Murkowski was appointed to her seat by her father and that she once said she would support whoever won the GOP primary. The ad goes on to accuse Murkowski of influencing the absentee vote count and manipulating the Libertarian party.
The parts that Murkowski and her lawyer, Timothy McKeever of the Anchorage firm Holmes, Weddle & Barcott, have taken issue with are the allegations that she “attempted to influence the absentee vote” and that she “tried to manipulate the Libertarian party.” The letter also argues that the statement “She did not earn it,” which refers to her father’s appointment of her, is false because she was reelected to the Senate seat in 2004.
The Tea Party Express spent about $600,000 on pro-Miller and anti-Murkowski advertising in the GOP primary race. A spokesman for the Tea Party Express, Levi Russell, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment but told the Associated Press his group stands behind the ad.
McKeever’s letter went out to stations in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. The letter makes a distinction between the latitude given to candidate advertising and the stricter standards that apply to non-candidate groups like the Tea Party Express. “When a station broadcasts false or incorrect advertisements, the station can be held liable for such action in a court of law and can lose their broadcasting license.”
McKeever attached news stories to the letter to bolster his argument. One is by a lawyer about the responsibilities television stations have when broadcasting political ads, while the others are about events mentioned in the Tea Party Express ad.
The letter ends by asking the stations not to broadcast the ad until they are able to prove the ads are truthful and correct.
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