Appeals court keeps ads off the air

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A Republican political group remained
stymied Wednesday in its attempt to get a series of political ads
back on Kentucky television stations, two days after a judge
ordered them taken off the air.
The Kentucky Court of Appeals dismissed a request Wednesday to
overturn Judge Thomas Wingate's restraining order that took down
attack ads against Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear. A three-judge
panel said the group needed to ask Wingate to reconsider the
restraining order before filing the appeal.
The latest series of blistering ads blamed Beshear for the loss
of nearly 100,000 jobs over the past four years and claimed he
granted partial pardons that restored voting privileges to
convicted murderers and rapists after taking office.
The group had previously run other TV and radio spots attacking
Beshear and supporting his Republican challenger, state Senate
President David Williams.
Restoring America lawyer Dale V. Bring said in a letter
Wednesday that the group filed updated paperwork with the Kentucky
Registry of Election Finance in hopes of getting the TV spots
running again. The paperwork shows that the group has spent more
than $1.4 million on ads, but it doesn't show who contributed that
money.
Williams' father-in-law, Russell Springs businessman Terry
Stephens, said Wednesday he's providing financial support to the
group. He also said his contributions are no indication of
coordination between the Williams campaign and Restoring America.
"My financial commitment to support the conservative values of
Restoring America, Inc. is in response to the devastation this
country and state are experiencing under the leadership of liberals
like Barack Obama," Stephens said in a written statement.
Stephens said he gave money to Restoring America Inc. trusting
that the group would support conservative causes.
"Restoring America, Inc. did not direct any contributions to
particular elections, and neither it nor I coordinated my free
speech with any candidate or campaign, and I will continue my
support of Restoring America or any other organization that helps
loosen the grip of moral decay on our state and our nation," he
said.
Bring, a Columbus, Ohio, attorney, said he considers it
"inconceivable" that a group like Restoring America could be
restrained by a judge from speaking on core political issues.
"Restoring America cannot allow the Democrat Party's lawyers to
deny its First Amendment rights or to distract from its message by
litigating elections in the courts rather than among the voters,"
Bring wrote.
The judge wrote in the order Monday that Restoring America had
improperly withheld the identities of donors.
Under Kentucky law, political groups are required to disclose
contributors. By not listing the donors, the judge said Restoring
America has prevented Beshear and the public from "the right to a
have a transparent campaign finance system."
Democratic Party attorney Jennifer Moore said the legal battle
makes its way back into Wingate's courtroom in Frankfort at 4 p.m.
Thursday for rulings on what is expected to be a flurry of motions.
"Now, we're back to square one, and the restraining order is
still in effect," she said.
The big news, Moore said, is that Stephens has acknowledged that
he is supporting Restoring America.
"We just don't know to what extent or how much," she said.
"It raises a huge question about whether or not the campaign is
coordinating with an independent expenditure group."
Beshear hasn't responded to charges in Restoring America's ads,
but Democratic Party Chairman Dan Logsdon called the ads "false
and defaming."

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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