Mia Love’s campaign team is threatening legal action against an advertising blitz from a Democratic PAC supporting Democrat Doug Owens, but the threat looks to be mostly political gamesmanship.
Love’s campaign has sent a cease and desist letter to local TV stations, urging them to not air the commercials because they contain “reckless and defamatory” statements.
The ads, from Nancy Pelosi’s House Majority PAC, started airing on Tuesday. They criticize love for improperly using her Congressional account to pay for travel to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, as well as for a plane ticket she did not use.
The legal complaint says the ad shows a fake Instagram account, which actually belongs to a minor child. The letter says the Instagram account is an invasion of privacy.
The complaint also says the ad misrepresents a news report about Love using official business mail, which some say crosses the line into campaign mailers.
In a statement, Love’s campaign manager Dave Hansen says “Nancy Pelosi and Doug Owens will stop at nothing to win a seat in Utah, and that includes ridiculous lies.”
“Cease and desist” letters usually contain a deadline for discontinuing the purported illegal activity; this one does not. It also does not include any threatened legal action for failure to comply, which is commonplace for this kind of action. It only says that the stations will be “liable for the false and deceptive charges made by the advertisement’s sponsor.”
Love is not the first GOP candidate to threaten legal action against a television station over advertising during the 2016 cycle. The Huffington Post reports five other Republicans have threatened to sue TV stations for running ads tying them to Donald Trump.
It’s somewhat standard practice for candidates to threaten TV stations with legal action to get ads pulled. The Federal Communications Commission has said that stations have some legal responsibility ― when dealing with ads from independent groups ― to eliminate ads with “false, misleading, or deceptive” content. But legal action is rare. Mostly, candidates count on TV stations to take down such ads.
In all of those previous cases, none of the ads were taken down.