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Banned ads dispute will go on after election

The legal dispute that pits free speech against guaranteeing the truth in political ads may continue beyond Election Day.

Monday, a state appeals court in Madison dropped an order from a Jackson County judge to take radio ads off the air against Democratic state Assembly candidate Mark Radcliffe.

Circuit Judge Thomas Lister also held a hearing in Black River Falls, where he withdrew from the case but kept it open.

Radcliffe can keep pursuing it in either court after today's election, to try and prove the ads were defamatory.

The ads, from the Coalition for America's Families, said Radcliffe supported tax-funded health coverage and care for illegal immigrants. Radcliffe said he supported neither.

But the coalition produced a transcript of a radio interview, in which Radcliffe supported the Healthy Wisconsin universal plan passed by the state Senate last year. The coalition accused Radcliffe of trying to silence the truth, and it called Monday's appellate ruling a victory for free speech.

Radcliffe's attorney David Holbrooks says he can still prove the ad's claims were false, thus violating a rarely-enforced state law against false campaign statements.

The same ad is running in several districts where Democrats are trying to replace Republicans with the hopes of winning the majority in the Assembly today (Tuesday).