Former Rep. Driehaus withdraws complaint against pro-life group over billboards
By Matt Anderson
COLUMBUS, Ohio, November 16, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Former Representative Steve Driehaus (OH-1) has requested to withdraw a legal complaint against the Susan B. Anthony List. The former politician filed the complaint on October 6 with the Ohio Elections Commission (OEC) alleging that SBA List was falsely accusing him of voting for federal abortion funding when he voted for the national health care law passed earlier this year.
Early in October, SBA List intended to run a series of billboards criticizing Driehaus for his vote in favor of the abortion-funding Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Driehaus, however, called SBA List’s claim that the healthcare law included abortion funding “patently untrue,” and launched a complaint.
Ohio law forbids publishing a “false statement concerning the voting record of a candidate or public official.”
SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser welcomed Dreihaus’ decision to withdraw his complaint as “a victory for the SBA List and for truth.”
Driehaus lost his bid for reelection on November 2nd to pro-life Republican Steve Chabot. Dannenfelser pointed to Driehaus’ loss as evidence that the people of Ohio understood that a vote for the health care law was a vote for federal abortion funding.
“Despite his efforts, Rep. Driehaus could not avoid facing the consequences of his health care vote at the ballot box. On Election Day, Driehaus’ constituents sent a clear message by siding with the SBA List and voting him out of office.”
However, SBA List said that it would continue its battle to overturn the Ohio law Driehaus used to file the complaint.
Shortly after Driehaus filed with the Ohio Elections Commission, SBA List filed a federal lawsuit asking the court to impose a temporary restraining order on the commission. The group claimed that the OEC’s proceedings were infringing upon their right to free speech and frightening away potential billboard companies. However, the federal court eventually ruled it could not intervene in the case because the OEC had yet to make its decision.
Dannenfelser said that SBA remains “gravely concerned that the statute allowing Rep. Driehaus to launch his complaint âEUR¦ can be used to silence free speech again.”
Multiple groups had rushed to the defense of the SBA List during the controversy. The National Right to Life Committee filed an affidavit with the OEC confirming that the healthcare law contained “multiple provisions that do in fact authorize (i.e., create legal authority for) taxpayer funding of abortion, and that predictably will result in such funding in the future.”
Further, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio also filed an amicus brief in support of the SBA List. The ACLU argued that the complaint infringed upon SBA List’s First Amendment rights. The brief claimed that Ohio’s election law was “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad” and chilled free speech.
The OEC has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 2 to consider the request for withdrawal. Dannenfelser said that the SBA List would not be challenging the request.
For related LSN Coverage see:
Judge Allows Driehaus Case against Susan B. Anthony List to Move Forward
Setback: Ohio Election Board Rules against Pro-Life SBA List
Dem Candidate Charges SBA List with Criminally Misleading Ads: NRLC Responds