SBA List Responds to Driehaus Lawsuit Claiming Loss of Livelihood

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List) responded to Congressman Steve Driehaus’ (D-OH) federal defamation lawsuit charging the SBA List with “depriving a person of his livelihood.”  The lawsuit alleges that the SBA List cost him his job by educating his constituents about his vote in favor of taxpayer funding of abortion in the health care bill.  SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser offered the following statement in response:

“Counter to his claims, the voters of Ohio’s First District are the ones that cost Steve Driehaus his livelihood. Congressman Steve Driehaus’ problem is not that the Susan B. Anthony List allegedly lied about his vote for taxpayer-funded abortion in the health care bill.  It’s that he caved when it counted, took the wrong vote, and paid the price on Election Day. 

Now he wants exclusive rights to describing that vote to his constituents and, in a democracy, that just isn’t possible. All major pro-life organizations along with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who speak on behalf of the Catholic Church, came to the same conclusion: that the health care bill Congressman Driehaus voted for allows taxpayer funding of abortion. 

Despite his best efforts to criminalize the SBA List’s free speech, Driehaus’ constituents heard the truth about his pro-abortion vote and have already determined whose description of that vote is true.  The SBA List will continue to defend that truth and the right to criticize our elected officials.”

On Wednesday, November 10, Driehaus filed a request to drop his complaint with Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) against the SBA List.  The OEC formally accepted Driehaus’ request, effectively dropping the complaint, in a hearing held on Thursday, December 2.  The same day, Driehaus filed a federal defamation lawsuit against the SBA List, alleging that the group’s efforts “deprive[d] a person of his livelihood.”

Background

Rep. Steve Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Elections Commission on Tuesday, October 6, 2010 alleging that the Susan B. Anthony List falsely accused him of voting for taxpayer funding of abortion as a result of his vote in support of health care legislation.  The complaint was spurred by the Susan B. Anthony List’s intention to put up four billboards in his congressional district.  Rep. Driehaus’ attorney convinced Lamar Companies to not to put up the billboards in order to avoid being added to the complaint. The Ohio Election Commission’s staff attorney recommended that Driehaus’ complaint be dismissed, but a probable cause panel of the Commission voted 2 to 1 to hold a full hearing to decide if SBA List broke Ohio law by putting false statements on its billboards. In mid-October, the SBA List filed a federal lawsuit requesting a temporary restraining order against discovery proceedings in the OEC hearing while the constitutionality of the Ohio law was reconsidered.  On Wednesday, October 20, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio filed an amicus brief in support of the SBA List’s federal case.  The restraining order was denied, and the SBA-List filed an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the Ohio statute.  The billboards were never erected.

On Tuesday, October 19, the SBA List announced a $50,000 radio ad buy across Rep. Driehaus’ district to spread its message and, on November 2, Steve Driehaus lost his re-election bid.  

The Susan B. Anthony List spent $11 million during the 2010 midterm election cycle. Overall, the SBA List was involved in 90 races including 62 wins and 28 losses. Successes included: defeating 15 of 20 so-called “pro-life” Democrats who voted for abortion funding in the health care reform bill; increasing the number of pro-life women in the House by 70 percent; filling the void of pro-life women in the U.S. Senate and increasing the number of pro-life women governors from one to four.  

 

For further information, please contact Kerry Brown at (703) 470-1926 or kbrown@sba-list.org.  

 

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