They ain’t no bandleaders
The Green Bay Press Gazette takes note of the handiwork of attorney Mike Maistelman on behalf of Steve Kagen, and they are not amused:
First came a shot fired last week at U.S. Rep. Steve Kagen, the two-term Democrat from Appleton, from a conservative group calling itself the “League of American Voters.” The group, which is targeting Kagen and 17 other House Democrats seen as vulnerable by the Republican Party in the November election, falsely accused Kagen of voting for a provision in the health-care reform legislation that was actually in the Senate bill.
Kagen responded to the misfire with the threat of heavy artillery — not at the League of American Voters but at the four Green Bay TV stations that aired the attack ad.
In a letter to the broadcast stations, Kagen’s attorney Michael Maistelman warned: “Any airing of these false, misleading and deceptive ads by your station could make your station liable for damages for the false and libelous charges made by this sponsor.”
Libelous? We think not.
The ad warns that President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want Kagen to cast the deciding vote in what the group calls “a last-minute deal to take over your health care.”
The ad begins: “Our congressman, Steve Kagen, voted for Obama and Pelosi’s health-care takeover,” then accuses Kagen of supporting “billions in Medicare cuts, health-care rationing (and) big taxes on good insurance plans.”
The phrase “big taxes on good insurance plans” was a reference to a provision that appears in the Senate version of the health-care bill, not the House version that Kagen supported.
After the stations inquired, the group submitted a revised version that correctly cites that Kagen voted for a bill that is “financed by an income tax surcharge.”
It is an incredible stretch to suggest that saying that Kagen wants “big taxes on good insurance plans” is libel.
Kagen’s victory in that battle may not have helped win the war. After all, aside from annoying the local media, all Kagen accomplished was different wording in the ad reminding voters that he supported higher income taxes. Kagen will have to find other means of getting himself elected other than trying to bluster and bully the local media. They ain’t no bandleaders.