Donald Trump has made the terrain so difficult for some GOP congressmen in moderate districts that a handful have threatened to sue TV stations for running ads produced by Democrats tying the Republicans to their nominee, the Huffington Post reported.
The Huffington Post report identified five different Republicans — whose campaigns have sought to distance themselves or even fully disavow Trump — who have filed complaints with stations requesting they pull ads linking them to Trump. Some of the letters, which claim the ads are misleading, have included the threat of legal action.
In general, it’s not uncommon for politicians to try to get unfair ads against them taken down. But, as Huffington Post notes, lawmakers usually aren’t crying defamation over being linked to the presidential nominee of their own party.
The Republicans floating legal action are Reps. Bob Dold (R-IL), Mike Coffman (R-CO), David Jolly (R-FL), John Katko (R-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick, who is running for a Pennsylvania seat being vacated by his brother. And according to Huffington Post, they have all been the target of Democratic ads that may have stretched a bit when it comes to placing them hand-in-hand Trump.
The anti-Jolly ad, for instance, features images of his face photoshopped next to Trump in a hypothetical world where Trump is president. The ad labels it as a “dramatization.” Jolly has been one of Trump’s toughest GOP critics, having called for him to drop out of the race after he proposed banning Muslim immigration and having continued to refuse to endorse Trump. A letter from the Jolly campaign’s attorney to local Florida stations called the ad “patently false” and threatens “legal remedies” if the ad’s run was continued.
The Huffington Post let it be “someone else’s call” whether this or the other ads are misleading enough to justify legal action, though the report notes that, in general, actual lawsuits stemming from these sorts of complaints are rare.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, meanwhile, told Huffington Post that none of the ads were pulled, but the runs for some of the ads have already finished.