Democratic Party Calls on Madison TV Stations to Pull False Ads Attacking Trish O

Oct 26, 2008

MADISON – Today, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin called on three Madison area television stations – WMTV, WKOW and WISC – to pull political ads that contain “false, misleading, and deceptive statements” about Assembly candidate Trish O’Neil. The ads are paid for by a group calling itself the Coalition for America‘s Families, which is funded by unknown special interests and anonymous donors.

The ads make the false claim that O’Neil supports efforts to fund government-run health care for illegal aliens and free health care for people who do not live or work in Wisconsin. There is no vote that O’Neil engaged in, no endorsement of legislation, or any other evidence supporting this outrageous lie. A copy of the letter to the Madison TV stations is attached.

“Outside special interest groups have spent half a million dollars in baseless negative attacks against Trish O’Neil and it is time to put an end to their lies,” said Joe Wineke, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Trish O’Neil has never endorsed the legislation she is being attacked on. The charges in these ads are completely untrue and we are calling on these stations to pull down these false ads immediately.”

The ads in question have been running in the Madison TV market for weeks, repeating factually incorrect statements and misrepresenting O’Neil’s position on health care. Wisconsin law prohibits media outlets from publishing “a false representation pertaining to a candidate or referendum which is intended or tends to affect voting at an election.”

A pattern has emerged across the state with the Coalition for America‘s Families and other shadowy groups airing false, misleading and deceptive advertisements against other Democratic Assembly candidates. These false attacks have been strongly criticized by media outlets in Green Bay and Eau Claire and a similar radio ad has been taken off the air in GrantCounty.

The Democratic Party has already filed a complaint, on behalf of other Democratic candidates, with the Government Accountability Board (GAB) over similar untrue ads. Earlier this month, the GAB ruled that they have authority to regulate issue ads, including the ones in question today.