On October 5, pro-life Democrat Congressman Steve Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission, accusing the  Susan B. Anthony List of planning to erect a fraudulent billboard in opposition to his reelection campaign.

Driehaus claimed the healthcare bill he voted for in March, sans the Stupak Amendment, did not allow taxpayer funding of abortion, as SBA List maintained.

Driehaus’s complaint had a chilling effect, causing the billboard company to refuse to post SBA List’s sign, below:

SBA List did get its message out alternatively, via a $50,000 radio ad buy as well as loads of free media, and Driehaus went on to lose to Republican pro-life champion Steve Chabot 52-45%.

As an aside, the ACLU filed an amicus brief on SBA List’s behalf, writing that Ohio election law was unconstitutional.

Nevertheless, even after Driehaus’s loss, his complaint remained – until today.

SBA List has just issued the following press statement. Note that this won’t be over until the OEC says its over, and even then it won’t be over, because SBA List is going to go after this unconstitutional Ohio election law in federal court, which is wonderful:

Today, the Susan B. Anthony List responded to Rep. Steve Driehaus’ (OH-01) request for withdrawal of his Ohio Elections Commission complaint against the SBA List. The OEC has been scheduled a hearing for Thursday, December 2 to consider Driehaus’ request. SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser offered the following statement:

“Rep. Driehaus’ decision to withdraw his complaint is a victory for the SBA List and for truth. The SBA List will not object to Rep. Driehaus withdrawing his complaint as we do not want to spend additional time and resources defending what the public already knows to be true – that the health care bill funds abortions with taxpayer dollars. Rep. Driehaus used an Ohio criminal statute to ensure that billboards stating the truth about his vote in favor of the pro-abortion health care bill were never erected. Despite his efforts, Rep. Driehaus could not avoid facing the consequences of his health care vote at the ballot box. On Election Day, Driehaus’ constituents sent a clear message by siding with the SBA List and voting him out of office.

“The SBA List remains gravely concerned that the statute allowing Rep. Driehaus to launch his complaint – and which cost the SBA List tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees – remains law and can be used to silence free speech again. The ACLU of Ohio’s amicus brief called the law ‘vague and overbroad,’ and said ‘it cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny.’ The ACLU of Ohio went on to argue that ‘the people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and, in any event, the best answer for bad speech is more speech.’ The SBA List will continue to pursue its federal case to declare the law unconstitutional in an effort to protect future speech.

Rep. Steve Driehaus filed a complaint with the OEC on Tuesday, October 6, 2010 alleging that the SBA List falsely accused him of voting for taxpayer funding of abortion as a result of his vote in support of health care legislation. The complaint was spurred by the SBA List’s intention to put up four billboards in his congressional district. Rep. Driehaus’ attorney convinced Lamar Companies to not to put up the billboards in order to avoid being added to the complaint. The OEC’s staff attorney recommended that Driehaus’ complaint be dismissed, but a probable cause panel of the Commission voted 2 to 1 to hold a full hearing to decide if SBA List broke Ohio law by putting false statements on its billboards. On October 20, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio filed an Amicus Brief in support of the SBA List’s case. The billboards were never erected.

On October 19, the SBA List announced a $50,000 radio ad buy across Rep. Driehaus’ district to spread its message and, on November 2, Steve Driehaus lost his re-election bid. The OEC must now formally accept Driehaus’ request in order for the complaint to be officially dismissed. A hearing has been set for Thursday, December 2.

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