This article originally appeared online at Washington Examiner.com on Monday, December 20, 2010.
What a sore loser. Even before he was kicked to the curb by Ohio voters, Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, tried to silence the Alexandria-based Susan B. Anthony List for criticizing his vote for Obamacare after the Stupak amendment banning the use of federal funds for abortion was stripped out of the bill.
Citing an Ohio statute that makes it a crime to knowingly tell malicious lies about a public official, the formerly pro-life congressman filed a criminal complaint against the PAC on Oct. 6, insisting that the health care bill he voted for would not fund abortion.
“The four billboards we planned to put up in his district, but were never allowed to, said: ‘Shame on Driehaus. He voted for taxpayer funded abortion,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA List, told The Examiner.
However, many other pro-life groups besides the SBA List believe otherwise, including The National Right to Life Committee and Ohio Right to Life, whose executive director, Mike Gonidakis, said: “The health care bill that Rep. Steve Driehaus voted for is a death sentence to an untold number of innocent unborn babies and he knows it.”
Even the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, which came to the SBA List’s defense, couldn’t stomach Driehaus’ attempt at revenge, arguing that the Ohio law was unconstitutional because it forces the state to prosecute private individuals for criticizing public officials.“The people have an absolute right to criticize their public officials, the government should not be the arbiter of true or false speech and, in any event, the best answer for bad speech is more speech,” the ACLU Ohio’s amicus brief noted.
The kicker is that the people in Ohio who decide when political criticism crosses the line into defamation are the four members of the Ohio Election Commission, who are all happen to be political appointees.
The day after the November election, Driehaus dropped his criminal complaint. But the sore loser is now suing the SBA List in federal court for defamation and “loss of livelihood” for pointing out his flip-flop on the abortion issue.
Driehaus lost his lucrative livelihood in Washington because he cynically tried to play both sides on the abortion issue, which the SBA List had a First Amendment right to point out.