Thursday, October 30, 2008

It Wasn't an Idle Threat

Kay Hagan is suing Elizabeth Dole for the she's-an-atheist TV ad, as she promised to do yesterday if the ad wasn't taken off the air. Dole responded, "Up yours," so Hagan says she's going to the law. She has 20 days to file the libel complaint, so we'll have to wait. It's the principle of the thing, no matter how the election is decided. Looks like defamation to us (though our law degree is a bit dusty), and Dole ought to pay the piper for that particular tune she chose to play.

In the meantime, Gary Pearce recaps political libel suits from the recent past in NC. In 1988, Jim Gardner beat Tony Rand for lieutenant governor. Rand later sued Gardner over an ad that associated Rand with drug dealers, and Rand apparently won a big settlement from Gardner. Pearce says "apparently" since the case was sealed as part of the settlement.

After the election of 2000, Attorney General Roy Cooper was accused of libeling an opponent. A suit resulted, but once again any settlement is shielded from public view

Following the election of 2002, Carolyn Grant filed a similar suit against Congressman Brad Miller following Miller's first win of his seat in the 13th Congressional Dist. Miller made accusations that Grant took $40,000 from her son's college fund to buy a car. According to the Fox News candidate profile of Miller, Grant was given the right to pursue the lawsuit, but she dropped it in 2006, not, according to Pearce, before Miller was forced to spend a lot of money defending himself.

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