Mitchum sues Capps over TV ad

February 18, 2015
Lois Capps

Lois Capps

By JOSH FRIEDMAN

The recent Republican challenger to Central Coast Congresswoman Lois Capps has filed suit against her, alleging that the Democratic Rep. defamed him in a television ad that altered the outcome of last year’s election.

Capps defeated Chris Mitchum in the November election by fewer than 8,000 votes and by a margin of less than 2 percent. Late in the campaign, Capps released an ad showing a video clip of Mitchum that was spun out of context to falsify what he was saying, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

“I do not intend to go to Washington to represent the 24th District,” Mitchum said in the commercial aired by Capps.

“I do not intend to go to Washington to represent the 24th District, to bring back baseball fields. That’s not why I’m going. I’m going to fight for my country, and I happen to come from the 24th District. ” Mitchum said in a longer version of the video clip.

Mitchum said in an email statement to CalCoastNews Wednesday that he is seeking a landmark ruling that will stop individuals and organizations from attempts to manipulate the public with untrue claims.

“It changes the balance (outcome) of elections and deceives voters into voting on information based on malicious lies,” Mitchum stated. “That is not the America in which I grew up and it must be stopped.”

Capps Campaign Consultant Bill Carrick called the complaint a “frivolous lawsuit.”

“The congresswoman has not been served with the claim and therefore has not had the chance to read it, but she is proud of the campaign she ran and is confident there is no validity to this frivolous lawsuit,” Carrick said.

Mitchum’s suit alleges that the ad falsely portrayed him as someone who planned to represent the Tea Party, not his constituents. The lawsuit states that Capps’s add completely altered the meaning of Mitchum’s statements and portrayed him as a hypocrite and narrow-minded Tea Party advocate.

The shortened audio clip of Mitchum aired on television, as well as radio stations in the district. It came amid a late advertising push by the Capps campaign and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

Both Capp’s congressional campaign and the DCCC are named as defendants in the lawsuit. The DCCC spent $99,000 on radio ads in the final weekend of the campaign alone, the suit alleges.

After the ad aired, California Republicans sent a letter to Capps demanding that she cease and desist running the commercial. A Capps spokesman told KEYT that he did not see anything wrong with the ad because Mitchum planned to represent a narrow agenda.

To prove defamation, Mitchum’s attorney, Joshua Lynn, must show proof that Capps not only made a false statement, but did so with malice. Proof of malice is required because Mitchum is a public figure.

Lynn stated in a press release that a lawsuit against ABC and its former reporter John Stossel serves as precedent for Mitchum’s case. In the ABC case, Stossel quoted a minister who said in a sermon that he used donations to buy luxury items.

But, the minister was not referring to himself in the context of the sermon. ABC settled the suit out of court and issued an apology.

Mitchum’s suit also alleges that Capps, her campaign and the DCCC committed a second tort: intentional infliction of emotional stress. The lawsuit states that the false ad caused Mitchum to suffer severe emotional shock and distress.

Mitchum is requesting reimbursement of his legal costs. He is also seeking compensatory, general, special, punitive and exemplary damages.

Capps recently faced a lawsuit that ended with the federal government issuing a $2.5 million settlement. After a former legislative aide for Capps struck and killed a Santa Barbara woman while driving drunk, the victim’s parents sued the driver, Capps and the federal government.

The suit alleged that the driver was on the job for Capps at the time and that congressional staffers attempted to cover-up knowledge of the man’s past DUIs. The federal government assumed liability for Capps and agreed to pay $2.5 million to the victim’s family.

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Paso_citizen

A few points to make- even though a little late in doing so:


1. She was wrong in approving that message. But she knows, as most politicians do,

that voters are mostly ignorant and largely base their vote on the stuff they see and

hear on TV.

2. She is not the only one who has done this.

3. I would like to see Mitchum succeed in his effort, but I doubt he will. As soon as this

county make it unlawful to run a dirty misleading campaign; our election process will

be reduced to about 1 week. If politicians cannot speak ill of one another, most

will have nothing to say.


willieslo

There is always a potential for this to occur when using professional vendors to advertise and promote your campaign.

Some have been successful with it and some successful without it.

Others will timely use Radio and internet media.


Lewy

When there is a tree to be planted

When there is a pardon to be granted

Call on Lois


When there is a speech to be read

When there is a tear to be shed

Call on Lois


But, don’t call on Lois for anything else

Too busy, got a flight to catch


isoslo

Lois Capps is not a class act, she goes along with her handlers in whatever slimy scheme they do. She is the picture of what is wrong with politics. I hope she gets her azz kicked by the judicial system.


Lewy

Lois Capps puts a face on the term “dirty politics”.


Casinogal

Read Mitchum’s web page. Egotist and this is nothing but sour grapes. Wonder who suggested this law suit? Could it have been Colfab? Just something to grab the spotlight and put the republicans in the limelight.

Perhaps he should go back to Spain where he lived for so long (read web page) and where he claims he was a huge star. His ego took a huge hit with the loss to Ms. Capps.

Once again, this is nothing but sour grapes and a bid for attention.


SanSimeonSam

The extended statement says it all “I’m going to fight for my country, and I happen to come from the 24th District. ”

This clown is just looking for a platform to push his own agenda in congress. He would not give a damn about representing our district or our citizens. So, the truncated ad was not completely wrong. Capps is a scumbag and ineffective but Mitchum is not the guy to go and represent us.


Spirit Filled

Mrs. Capps hopefully feels guilty about what she has done. She is listening to the wrong people. No one should win the way she did.


God Bless,


MajorityFan

Jim Hill won that way.


Slowerfaster

Capps’ ad opens with a visual of Mitchum speaking before a Tea party rally.

Context #1 : Mitchum supports or wants the support of the Tea party. Does that represent the 24th District ?

Context #2 : Next are blurbs over a pic of Mitchum …’More Gridlock, More Partisanship’, Cut Social Security and Medicare’, ‘Eliminate Student Loans’…all policy positions that Mitchum consistently advocated for. Do these positions represent the 24th District, i.e. what the people want ?

Context #3 : ‘Mitchum Not for the Middle Class’, …slight shorthand for Mitchum calling for more tax cuts for the rich and corporations. Again, does this represent the wishes of the 24th District ?


Then, Mitchum’s own words that he would not represent the 24th District.

That’s the real connection that provides the context.

A mere anonymous voiceover or Ms. Capps repeating the words, “Chris Mitchum does not represent the 24th District” might have been even more effective, and true.


Again, Chris Mitchum got caught telling the truth ( about himself ), and now he wants somebody else to pay for it !


markslo70

“he is seeking a landmark ruling that will stop individuals and organizations from attempts to manipulate the public with untrue claims.” Good luck. Really. I think we are all getting a little tired of the illusion of democracy and the illusion of truthful media. Its going to be one hell of an uphill battle though.