Bowing to pressure from the state Democratic Party, a Wisconsin based conservative group has pulled a series of television ads which insinuate that Governor Jim Doyle is raising hunting and fishing fees “to give partners of gay state employees free health insurance.”
The Coalition for America's Families told TV stations on Wednesday that it was canceling its ads for next week because it couldn't raise the needed cash, but the Democratic Party said the announcement directly followed threats to file suit against the group, which is headed by former state Republican Part Chairman Steve King.
“Political issue advertising is always at the mercy of fundraising, and we did not raise the funds for next week's schedule,” the group's media director, Ginny Stuesser, wrote in an e-mail received by the Democratic Party.
According to representatives for the Democratic Party, they invoked a seldom-used state law that allows for criminal prosecution of anyone who makes false, misleading and deceptive statements in order to affect the outcome of an election.
The law was used last year to prevent a candidate from accusing her opponent of not paying state taxes.
In a letter to TV stations, Milwaukee attorney Michael Maistelman said the party believes the ads falsely implied that “domestic partnership benefits are being paid for by higher fishing license fees, as well as other revenue sources mentioned in the ad such as nursing and HMO fees."
Last month, Doyle had proposed spending $1 million in his budget to provide health insurance coverage for partners of gay and lesbian University of Wisconsin employees, but the plan was rejected by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee earlier this month.
Gay and lesbian employees of the University of Wisconsin filed a discrimination suit last month when the university failed to extend medical benefits to domestic partners. That case was overturned earlier this week.
Under Doyle's plan, gay and lesbian employees would have paid the same insurance rates as other state workers; the state's share of those benefits would have come from general state taxes.
The party also claimed the ads are not legitimate commentary on the state budget, which is now before the Legislature.
The Coalition for America’s Families has also sponsored TV ads criticizing Doyle's proposal to grant in-state tuition to Wisconsin high school students whose parents are illegal immigrants. Written By Ross von Metzke
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