23
Oct/06

Political False Advertising Fact Pattern


Phone records of candidate for office (a district attorney, running for congress) shows call to ‘fantasy sex’ phone line, lasting 1 minute or less. A second call is then made immediately to a similar phone number belonging to a government office, which number shares last seven digits with the first phone number.
National political party of opponent runs ad characterizing first call as deliberate (including dramatization of phone sex worker).
Candidate releases phone records of the two calls, and states that the first call was a wrong number.
National political party refuses to pull ad.
Discuss possible causes of actions by candidate.
Discuss possible defenses available to political party relating to (1) broadcast of ads before public release of phone records; and (2) broadcasts made after release of phone records.
Note that statements that are literally true, but misleading in the context presented, may be actionable.
Discuss impracticality of court remedy two weeks before election.
Discuss ban on ‘coordination’ between national political parties and local candidates (some background here).
Background on fact pattern here here.

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