I wrote last week that embattled Democrat OH-1 Congressman Steve Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission to block the Susan B. Anthony List from erecting the above billboard (click to enlarge) several places in his district.

Driehaus is currently losing badly in the polls to pro-life Republican Steve Chabot, from whom he took the seat in 2008.

On October 14 an OEC panel voted 2-1  to allow Driehaus’s complaint to move forward, setting a hearing date for October 28, just 6 days before the election, effectively censoring SBA List’s billboard ad. More than that, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer

OH law allows the elections commission to issue a public reprimand, or refer the case to the Franklin Co. prosecutor. A criminal conviction for making false campaign statements is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

So the stakes here are extraordinarily high and personal for SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser (pictured right).

But bravo, SBA List attorney James Bopp filed a federal lawsuit on October 18 to block the OEC from blocking SBA List’s free speech:

Pro-Life Group Asks Federal Court To Stop The Ohio “Speech Police”

SBA List filed a federal lawsuit yesterday asking the court to stop OH’s investigation of whether it made a “false statement” about a candidate for Congress until the court can decide whether the law they were charged under is constitutional….

The Election Commission’s staff attorney recommended that Driehaus’s complaint be dismissed. But a probable cause panel of the Commission voted 2 to 1 to hold a full hearing to decide whether SBA broke Ohio law by engaging in political speech.

SBA now has to submit to Rep. Driehaus’s discovery requests (a legal process that requires SBA to be deposed by Rep. Driehaus and turn over certain documents to him). Worse, they have not been able to place their billboards and engage in their political speech because of this action before the Commission. Instead, their energy is being used to try to comply with Rep. Driehaus’s discovery request, and defend themselves before the Commission.

So yesterday SBA asked a federal court to order the Commission and Rep. Driehaus to stop their investigation until the court decides whether Ohio’s “false statement” laws are constitutional.

James Bopp, Jr., lead attorney for SBA, called Driehaus’s complaint “politically motivated,” saying “Driehaus calls himself a ‘pro-life Democrat,’ yet he voted for Obamacare, a law authorizing funding for abortion. Now he is using OH’s unconstitutional law to silence his political opponent, because he doesn’t want it to tell the voters what he did. This is a last gasp effort from a politician who doesn’t want to be held accountable.”

Mr. Bopp also explained that “the government has no right to act as ‘speech police’ and tell us what we can and cannot say, or decide what is true, and what is false. They especially cannot do so with regard to the type of issue advocacy that SBA engaged in. The Founders deliberately took that right away from government when they crafted the First Amendment.”

Meanwhile, the flak is getting scads of media attention. SBA List reports:

Besides Fox News [see below], our efforts have garnered media attention across the county, including The Daily Caller, National Review, Hot Air, CNN, Weekly Standard, Politico, and many more.

SBA List isn’t stopping there. It has launched a $50,000 radio ad buy in Driehaus’s district exposing his attempt to censor it and has included Driehaus’s district in a $1 million, 2.3 million piece mail “Votes have consequences” ad campaign covering 42 competitive races nationwide.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...