Okla. Commissioner Fights Texas Group’s Attack Ads

October 30, 2006

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland has started her own ad campaign to counter a series of negative TV ads from a Texas group called “Just the Facts America.”

Meanwhile, The Oklahoman filed a lawsuit against the group claiming trademark and copyright infringement because the newspaper’s name was used without permission in the ads.

One of the ads depict part of a September news story from The Oklahoman about Holland’s donations as well as The Oklahoman’s name. A slightly different ad without the name appeared after The Oklahoman complained and filed its federal suit, which is pending.

“Just the Facts America” has paid about $250,000 for the campaign, and the ads are expected to run across Oklahoma through Monday. TV station sales managers say they expect the group will make more buys to continue the ad through election day Nov. 7.

The ad has been running at stations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Wichita Falls, Texas, and Denison, Texas. Lawton’s TV station rejected the ad.

“Who’s funding it? I have no idea,” Holland said. “I’ve obviously stepped on somebody’s toes. … My job is to hold insurance companies accountable and I’ve probably made a few mad.”

Holland said she is spending $225,000 for her own campaign. She said she bought a little more than she planned to counter the attack ad.

“Just the Facts” has not reported who its donors are to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Its attorney said it doesn’t have to because the group is running an issues ad and never clearly identifies Holland.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the ad is clearly electioneering and in violation of the rules. He has suggested the Ethics Commission implement procedures to bring legal action against such ads in the future.

The 30-second “Just the Facts” ad never names Holland, a Tulsa Democrat, but it does feature silhouettes resembling her.

In a news release, “Just the Facts” describes itself as “a national organization promoting the common business interests of its members.” A founding director was identified as Jim Cardle, who is president of a conservative organization, the Texas Citizen Action Network.

Information from: The Oklahoman, www.newsok.com.

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