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Backlash to Obama officials squelching political speech

Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 09/27/2008 @ 7:25 pm In Front Page | Comments Disabled

Gov. Matt Blunt

Following legal threats by Missouri state law-enforcement officials supporting Barack Obama against presidential campaign ads that appeared to be false or misleading, Gov. Matt Blunt today likened the intimidation to “police state tactics.”

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign,” said Blunt in a statement released today. “What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.”

The statement came after the law enforcement officials pledged to form a “truth squad” to halt ads that, among other things, claimed Obama was not a Christian or that he was not planning to cut taxes on Americans other than the wealthy.

“If they’re not going to tell the truth, somebody’s got to step up and say, ‘That’s not the truth. This is the truth,’” McCullogh told KMOV-TV in St. Louis.

The effort appeared to be part of a move by the Obama campaign to block advertisements to which it objects. The campaign also sent “threatening” letters to several news agencies in Pennsylvania and Ohio demanding they stop airing ads exposing Obama’s gun stance, according to the National Rifle Association.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson,” said Blunt. “I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.”

Blunt concluded: “Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts – not a free society.”

The NRA’s Political Victory Fund also condemned the effort as censorship.

“Barack Obama and his campaign are terrified of the truth,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of organization. “Sen. Obama’s statements and support for restricting access to firearms, raising taxes on guns and ammunition and voting against the use of firearms for self-defense in the home are a matter of public record. NRA-PVF will make sure that everyone knows of Obama’s abysmal record on guns and hunting.”

The Obama campaign declined to respond to a WND request for comment.

The NRA said Obama sent “cease and desist letters” to news outlets in the two states, “denouncing the ads and demanding their removal from the airwaves.”

“Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in our nation’s history. That’s the truth,” said Cox. “NRA-PVF has the facts on our side. No amount of running from or lying about his record and then intimidating news outlets in the hope of deceiving American gun owners and hunters is going to work. Those strong arm tactics may work in Chicago, but not in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and not as long as NRA-PVF has anything to say about it.”

The warnings were from Obama lawyer Robert Bauer, who told station managers that in order to stay in the Federal Communication commission’s good graces, they should not air the ads.

Josh Marquis, an Oregon prosecutor who serves as a spokesman for the NDAA, said the comments from Missouri don’t sound like the McCulloch he knows.

“I’m really surprised. I know Bob,” Marquis told WND.

The KMOV report said the Obama campaign asked members of Missouri’s law enforcement to target anyone who “lies” or issues misleading television ads. Formation of the Obama “Truth Squad” was the result, the report said.

McCulloch declined to return a call from WND seeking comment.

The KMOV report said the campaign was being conducted by McCulloch and another prosecutor, Jennifer Joyce, along with a number of sheriffs throughout the state.

“They will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone who makes less than $250,000 a year. They also say they plan to respond immediately to any ads and statements that violate Missouri’s ethics laws,” the report said.

“We want to keep this campaign focused on issues,” Joyce told the station. “We don’t want people to get distracted. Missourians don’t want to be distracted by the divisive character attacks.”

The campaign was assembled to “set the record straight,” they said.

Officials with the Missouri Sheriff’s Association declined to talk about any sheriffs who might be involved in the campaign.

At the blog Gateway Pundit, the reaction was immediate.

“St. Louis and Missouri Democrat sheriffs and top prosecutors are planning to go after anyone who makes false statements against Obama during his campaign. This is so one-sided I can’t even [begin] to describe how wrong this agenda is,” writes blogger Jim Hoft.

Hoft said Joyce and McCulloch “are threatening to bring libel charges against those who speak out falsely against Barack Obama.”

Missouri blogger Doctor Bulldog commented: “Don’t think they will stop with just the local radio and television stations. Oh, no. We bloggers are NEXT on the chopping block! It doesn’t matter if it is the truth. It only matters if Obama deems it a lie (i.e. – something that can cause damage to his bid to be president). Basically, NO ONE is free to criticize Obama here in Missouri!!!”

In the St. Louis Examiner, a commentary said, “Look, politicians are all about lies. It may be annoying (I find it entertaining), but that’s for their opponents and good-government groups to counter – not law enforcement. … Even if the officeholders joining the ‘truth squad’ are nominally stepping out of their official roles in order to put on their (political) party hats and play politics, it’s inappropriate. They wield too much power to use it to wag their fingers at people who say un-nice things about political hopefuls. Prosecutors and sheriffs are, after all, normally thought of as people with the clout to put their targets behind bars.”

Marquis told WND politicians keep their right to have a political opinion and express it, but the DA’s organization strives hard not to be partisan.


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