False Political Ads are Costly

By Richard Nelson

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December 21, 2016

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There's a mistaken belief that politicians can say whatever they want without any consequences—especially when it comes to spreading falsehoods about their opponent. This was recently underscored when a jury in Eastern Kentucky found a former Democratic state senator guilty for knowingly airing a false TV ad in 2014.  At issue was a TV commercial alleging Republican senate challenger Dr. Ralph Alvarado, unlawfully prescribed $3,000 worth of oxycodone to a criminal. The jury found the footage to be altered and the charges baseless. As a result, the jury ordered the former state senator RJ Palmer to pay Alvarado $200,000 in damages. Alvarado went to court to clear his good name and also to send a message that such political ads are out of bounds.  This court case did a service for future candidates—candidates who once again are reminded that false political ads are costly.

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Director, Commonwealth Policy Center