Iowa Supreme Court Weighs In on Campaign Ads

Iowa's Supreme Court has weighed in a contentious campaign ad that led to legal fireworks between two candidates here in Siouxland.The TV commercials run on behalf of Sioux City Democrat Rick Mullin during his campaign for State Senate in 2010 tried to tie his Republican opponent, Rick Bertrand, to questionable practices of a pharmaceutical company Bertrand once worked for.The ad accused Bertrand of intentionally marketing a harmful sleep aid drug to children.Bertrand filed a defamation suit against Mullin, calling the ad "character assassination." In the end, the majority of the justices agreed there's no evidence Mullin or Democrats intended to mislead viewers that Bertrand marketed the drug. It is the court's opinion that all of the statements in the ad were supported by research, including criticism by the FDA.Mullin, who lost the election, said about the lawsuit, "They know their trick worked, and I'm afraid for other candidates who will learn the same lesson. If you sue someone at the end of a campaign, you can toss enough mud on it and just enough voters might get confused and you might win because of it."We have been unable to reach State Senator Bertrand for his response to the ruling. When he filed the lawsuit he told us, "This type of character assassination for political gain must be stopped. This garbage is exactly why people don't run for public office."