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September 27, 2008
Missouri's Obama Truth Squads
Last Tuesday, CBS affiliate Channel 4 TV News in St. Louis reported that some Missouri sheriffs and prosecutors have formed a truth squad to target anyone who engages in misleading ad or statements about Senator Obama.
Here's the transcript of the lede on the CBS story:
"Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign is asking Missouri law enforcement to target anyone who lies or runs a misleading television ad during the presidential campaign."
The implied threat in the Channel 4 report is that prosecutors and sheriffs across Missouri will enforce "Missouri ethics laws" and conduct criminal investigations of "anyone who lies or runs a misleading television ad" against Barack Obama. Although the report did not directly state that intent, that implied message was clearly conveyed.
Two high-profile officers of the court spoke on camera: Jennifer Joyce, St. Louis Circuit Attorney, and Robert P. McCullouch, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney. No one was available at either of their offices on Friday to comment on the story.
Channel 4 mentions the expected support of Jefferson County Sheriff Glen Boyer in the truth squad efforts. Captain Ralph Brown, in charge of press relations for the Sheriff's Department, could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Scott Holste, speaking Friday on behalf of the Missouri Attorney General's office, was available for comment. He said he had already been contacted about the Channel 4 report, that the Attorney General's office was not involved in any way with truth squads, and that he found the CBS news item to be "a mangled story."
Also on Friday, Joe Carroll, Director of Campaign Financing, Missouri Ethics Commission, said that he is "not familiar with any campaign law that applies."
John Mills, the Channel 4 reporter, was unavailable for comment Friday.
Was the St. Louis CBS affiliate complicit in the attempt, by some elected Democrat court officials in the St. Louis area, to stifle free political speech in Missouri on Senator Obama's behalf?
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