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California Congressman Sues TV Stations Over Political Ad

Rep. Jeff Denham, who represents California’s 19th Congressional district, is suing Sacramento TV stations as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee saying both the stations and the DCCC refused to pull a :30 second spot he says lied about his record.

“Not only is the ad a flat-out lie, but it’s malicious, and they should be held accountable,” Denham told the Fresno Bee in a telephone interview Friday.

In the spot the announcer says, “In times of conflict, American troops have our backs. But that didn’t stop Jeff Denham from turning his back on them. With a government shutdown looming in Washington, Denham voted against a measure to guarantee our troops would still receive their pay. But Denham did protect his own paycheck.”  You can watch the ad after the jump.

The Bee points out Dunham’s chances of winning the suit are slim,

Legally, Denham faces high hurdles. As an elected official, the quintessential public figure, Denham must demonstrate that the statements about him were made by individuals who knew the assertions were false or who acted with reckless disregard for whether they were false. Judges often give wide leeway to heated and even misleading political speech, in particular.

The complaint, as posted by The Hollywood reporter, shows Denham understands politics can get nasty, but says the ad crossed the line,

“While Congressman Denham vigorously supports First Amendment rights and the profound national commitment to the principles that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials, the Defendants have with actual malice, which is to say with knowledge with falsity or with reckless disregard of whether the publication was false, lied about him maliciously.”

Here’s a look at the spot that spurred the suit.

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