Republicans Are Threatening Lawsuits To Block Ads Tying Them To Trump

10/26/2016 10:55 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2016
Bloomberg/Getty Images

By Tina Nguyen

With Donald Trump tanking in the polls and Democrats trying to take vulnerable Republican lawmakers down with him, some G.O.P. candidates are taking evasive maneuvers to avoid being crushed by their party’s tottering nominee.

Faced with an onslaught of political ads connecting them to Trump, five Republicans are accusing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee of providing false or misleading information, the Huffington Post reports. Congressmen Bob Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Coffman (R-Colo.),David Jolly (R-Fla.), and John Katko (R-N.Y.) — as well as congressional candidate Brian Fitzpatrick, running for an open seat in Pennsylvania, have issued complaints against TV stations running ads made by the D.C.C.C., claiming that the ads are tantamount to defamation and asking the stations to take them down.

In some cases, it appears the D.C.C.C. did misrepresent some candidates. Coffman, for instance, has been consistently on record as being against Trump. To suggest that he would support Trump is “an outright lie,” his lawyer wrote in a strongly worded cease-and-desist letter to a local television station airing the ad.

Others cases are more tenuous: While Dold threatened a suit claiming that the D.C.C.C. falsely claimed that while he publicly opposed Trump, he secretly raised money to help defeat Hillary Clinton at a private fund-raiser, he has admitted himself that the event in question was called “Beat Hillary at the Distillery,” though the money went only to support local candidates.

Unsurprisingly, all five candidates are from swing states, with the exception of Katko, whose district voted for Barack Obama twice, and Dold, whose district has voted blue since 2000.

It’s not uncommon for politicians to try to stop ads from running on TV by claiming that they are false, misleading, or defamatory, but rarely do they file formal lawsuits.

It’s not uncommon for politicians to try to stop ads from running on TV by claiming that they are false, misleading, or defamatory, but rarely do they file formal lawsuits. But it does hint at the anxiety in Republican circles over down-ticket races, which have been jeopardized both by Trump’s unpopularity and by his ongoing vendetta against G.O.P. lawmakers who have stood up to him. Democrats have stepped gleefully into that vacuum, with President Obama himself making an unprecedented 150 personal endorsements in local, state, and congressional races. With Trump damaging the G.O.P. brand at every turn, even sharing the same tent as him makes any Republican look bad, as Dold, Coffman, and the rest are abundantly aware. Democrats, for their part, are counting on it.

More from Vanity Fair:

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
Republicans Who Have Withdrawn Their Support For Donald Trump
CONVERSATIONS