Roundup: Susan B. Anthony List Lied In Ohio, According to Election Commission

Robin Marty

The Susan B. Anthony List is found guilty of misleading claims in their attacks against Ohio representative Steve Driehaus.

In an update to the lawsuits and campaign finance complaints being filed against anti-choice front groups targeting anti-choice Democrats, Rep. Steve Driehaus of Ohio won a key victory as the elections commission agreed that the group was in fact engaging in false advertising.

Via Cincinnati.com:

A three-member panel of the Ohio Elections Commission ruled in favor of U.S. Rep. Steve Driehaus today in his complaint against the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

The ruling angered several pro-life groups who said Ohio elections law unfairly restricts free speech.

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The panel’s “probable cause” finding means there will be another hearing to determine if the group broke Ohio law that bars making false statements in campaigns. Driehaus is up for re-election on Nov. 2. In the meantime, attorneys for both sides can begin taking sworn depositions.

Driehaus, a Democrat from West Price Hill, is fighting the group’s plans to erect four billboards saying he favored taxpayer-funded abortions because he voted for the national health care bill.

Driehaus’ Cincinnati attorney, Paul DeMarco, intends to depose SBA members to find out what they consider federal funding of abortions.

“They’re actually conceding the argument that there is no new federal funding,” Driehaus said.

Of coures, the Susan B. Anthony List still claims they are totally in the right.  From Politico:

In an act of desperation and fear, Rep. Steve Driehaus is attempting to use a criminal statute to silence his critics. It is a fact that Steve Driehaus has voted for a bill that includes taxpayer funding of abortion. His own affidavit refers to an Executive order which purports to undo the harms of the actual bill for which he voted. The bill retains the language which Rep. Bart Stupak referred to as an ‘accounting gimmick’ that allows for federal dollars to go to insurance plans that cover abortion….  

We are confident that the Ohio Elections commission and, most importantly, the people of Steve Driehaus’ congressional district will see through this heavy-handed attempt to silence free speech in the public sphere. Because of these tactics, we will spend more resources to make sure that Steve Driehaus’ constituents know the truth of his vote.”

Ben Smith says that since both sides “honestly believe” they are right about the federal funding of abortion question, the Ohio Commission really can’t be the arbitrator of who’s right or wrong.  But that’s like saying since both sides “honestly believe” their views on how the earth was created, schools should have to allow creationists to have equal time in the classroom.

In the meantime, SBA accusations are not going unanswered.  According to CNN:

Last week, the group announced it is partnering with other socially conservative outfits to spend $240,000 in TV ads “highlighting pro-abortion health care votes of so-called ‘pro-life Democrats.'”

The ads target Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper and Indiana Rep. Joe Donnelly.

The conservative campaign against self-described “pro-life” Democratic lawmakers has spurred a handful of relatively new left-leaning faith groups to come to their defense.

In Ohio, a group called Catholics United released a letter this month signed by 36 Cincinnati clergy and lay leaders, including 11 Catholic nuns, denouncing allegations that Driehaus’ healthcare vote begat government-funded abortion.

In Virginia, a related group, called the Matthew 25 Network, is launching a radio ad Monday on behalf of Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello – who has also come under attack by religious conservatives – that lauds his Christian faith and his values.

“These were folks who took a courageous stand on healthcare reform, who led the fight to make sure there was no abortion funding in the bill” said Catholics United Executive Director Chris Korzen of the Democratic lawmakers his group is seeking to help.

“We knew that conservative groups like Susan B. Anthony List would be after them,” Korzen said, “And we wanted to make sure there was an organized presence to set the record straight.”

Mini Roundup: Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns is still pushing “fetal pain” regulations based on faulty science, although he admits that there’s no way congress can get an actual “pain based” ban through currently. And the so-called “fetal pain” abortion ban goes into effect today in his home state.

October 14, 2010

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