Sethi camp warns of legal action for airing attack ads it calls ‘knowingly dishonest’

Republican Senate candidate Manny Sethi’s camp is calling a new attack ad by a super PAC  ‘knowingly dishonest’ and his lawyers are warning TV stations not to air the spot.

Standing with Conservatives is running an ad attacking Sethi for a $50 donation he made through the ActBlue online donation processing site in 2008. The ad calls ActBlue a PAC that later supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

The Tennessean’s Natalie Allison has a copy of the ad here:

Sethi’s attorneys say the donation was made by the candidate’s wife to a family friend. They argue ActBlue is being mischaracterized as a PAC.

Standing with Conservatives has spent $512,500 on independent expenditures opposing Sethi so far. The PAC was formed on July 3 and there is no public information available about who is behind it.

The full letter from the Sethi campaign follows:

To whom it may concern:

We are writing regarding an urgent matter. Standing with Conservatives PAC, a group supporting Ambassador Bill Hagerty, is running a false, misleading advertisement on your station attacking Dr. Manny Sethi, who is also running for U.S. Senate. We ask you to cease and desist broadcasting the ad immediately.

In 2008, Dr. Manny Sethi’s wife made a small donation of fifty dollars to a family friend running for office. Now this PAC and Bill Hagerty’s campaign are attacking Dr. Sethi’s wife over this donation. As we outline below, their effort is knowingly dishonest and deeply cynical.

Specifically, the ad states Dr. Sethi “donated to a Democrat PAC that supports progressives like Bernie Sanders” It goes on to say the group “advocates” for a number of liberal causes.

This claim is patently false: Act Blue, the PAC in question, is a credit card processor. Many candidates and organizations use it as a means of processing online donations. ActBlue collects, processes, and distributes money from donors to candidates. That is all. ActBlue does not make independent expenditures. ActBlue does not run commercials. ActBlue does not even make strategic contributions to candidates. In most Democratic primaries, all of the candidates use ActBlue to process donations. Simply put: ActBlue does NOT advocate. They are a conduit to candidates and nothing else. To say otherwise, as this ad does, is a lie. 

To make matters worse, the makers of this ad clearly know their attack on Dr. Sethi is false. As Inside Elections said, ” … The makers of this ad get it, because at the bottom it clearly says “Donation to ActBlue; earmark to Perriello for Congress. So it comes across more as bad-faith than as an innocent misunderstanding.”

Here are the facts: Dr. Sethi’s wife donated $50.00 to a friend from school running for office. To make the donation, she was required to use this credit card processor. There was no other way to give money online without going through this conduit.

No donation was made to ActBlue — contrary to what is stated in this false ad. The donation was made to a candidate, via ActBlue. The disclaimer in the false ad acknowledges as much, meaning the makers of this ad are knowingly lying. This isn’t a matter of sloppiness. It’s dishonesty, plain and simple, and the PAC all but-says-as much in its disclaimer.

This ad, paid for by Standing with Conservatives PAC, is defamatory and false. We ask that you immediately cease and desist the broadcast of this advertisement. The Dr. Manny Sethi campaign is prepared to
take immediate legal action if this false ad is not taken off the air now.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Billy Stokes
Attorney at Law

32 Responses to Sethi camp warns of legal action for airing attack ads it calls ‘knowingly dishonest’

  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    Why is everyone SOOOO upset about a donation to ActBlue? They are a legitimate and worthwhile organization and giving them a donation is not illegal or unethical. Sounds like a lot of nothing to me.

  • Tim Skow says:

    Ms. Shaw … Be unintentional [ or QUITE intentional on your part ] …. you are missing the point. The point remains, the contribution was for $50 from Mrs. Sethi to her school-era FRIEND running for office out of state.

    The contribution was NOT TO AN ORGANIZATION. No matter your politics Ms Shaw, Please…be better!!

  • Mark Rogers says:

    The key point is that Hagerty and his thugs are so desperate and so dishonest that they distort one small contribution to a friend while hoping no one pays attention to the $1000 contribution the Am assador made to Al Gore. Was Gore a friend of Hagerty’s? Did Hagerty think Gore would be a better President? Or was Hagerty just trying to buy influence?

    Tennessee deserves better than someone who would lie like this. Someone who is better than this last minute desperate effort to mislead voters. Someone who isn’t a creature of the Establishment.

    • John says:

      Deep State Hagerty supports global warming Al Gore and Common Core. He’s Romney’s #1 supporter and will be more liberal than Alexander according to Senator Rand Paul and Mark Levin.

      • Stuart I. Anderson says:

        “He’s Romney’s #1 supporter and will be more liberal than Alexander according to Senator Rand Paul and Mark Levin.” That’s amazing! Can you possibly give us a citation to verify they actually said such preposterous things? Did they make a list of Romney supporters and decide Hagerty was #1 and on what basis? How do they know that Hagerty will be more liberal than Alexander (Heritage-51%). After all, Romney has a Heritage score of 69% which is a heck of a lot more conservative than Lamar’s and if Hagerty is Romney’s #1 supporter. . . .

        See what happens when you support a bad candidate? It has a bad effect on your mind and personality. Chairman Manny’s campaign makes things up about his being a “CONSERVATIVE-OUTSIDER” and you begin to make preposterous statements up and ascribe them to poor Sen. Paul and Mark Levin. It’s bad enough they are supporting that bad candidate too.

        • Mark Rogers says:

          Stewie, Alexander did a fundrsiser for Ambassador Forked Tongue.

          I am not sure whether you have a man crush on the Hag or you dislike Manny because your dog told you too. Either way you should consider therapy… lots of therapy.

          The bottom line is that you support a liar and a donor to Al Gore over someone who has spent years improving the lives of sick and poor Tennesseans. Thst isn’t conservative. That is you on some weird personal jihad.

          You are just sad. Much like your bro-mance, the Gore loving Ambassador.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            “. . . [He] may be a angel who spends all winter bringin’ the homeless blankets and dinner. A regular Nobel Peace Prize winner. But I really [dislike him]. . . .” because no
            one as rich as he is and has done so little for conservative candidates or the conservative movement deserves conservative support. His campaign “CONSERVATIVE-OUTSIDER” shtick is a fraud and conservatives should call him out for it by voting for Hagerty. It’s as simple as that!

  • Stuart I. Anderson says:

    This is so infuriating. When I saw that ad I shouted “NO, NO, NO.”

    There is so much material to show Chairman Manny is not a conservative. Instead of that stupid insignificant $50.00 contribution how about the fact that he is a multi-millionaire who has such a marginal interest in politics that he has only managed about $2,800 annually in contributions over the past twelve years and of those contributions one was made to Bob Corker (Heritage-63%) and another to Cindy Smith (Heritage 62%). These were not the contributions in size or target of a table pounding conservative zealot. He contributed to Marsha but was it made when she was running against tepid conservative Fincher or was it made when she was safely the Republican nominee? Why not bring up Dr. “OUTSIDER’s” tenure as Chairman of the flagship fundraiser of the Republican Establishment’s and his close relationship with three former Tennessee Republican Party State Chairmen.

    The Chairman’s campaign is such a target rich environment so instead these fools have to bang on about that lousy $50 contribution. Why didn’t they call me before they ran that embarrassing ad?

    • Perry Aubric says:

      Apparently, Stuart, they didn’t call you because they don’t think you know a whole lot, as evidenced by the inordinate amount of time you spend obsessing about what is posted on this extremely small platform rather than actively trying to influence your party leadership (or if you are, failing at it). If you want to be a player, I don’t think this is the place to do that. Thousands of words, making the same point over and over again, on a Tennessee Journal blog site doesn’t really help your credibility.

      Nor, to address the point you have repeated ad nauseum, does harping on the level of contribution to the candidates of your party. You have constantly brayed, basically, that Sethi doesn’t deserve to be the nominee because he doesn’t have a long record of giving to candidates (or, at least, candidates you approve of, as if you are the arbiter of true Republicanism or even true conservatism). No one but you really gives a damn about such inside baseball nonsense, and in fact, rank and file voters are generally suspicious of big dollar donors. That fact that you have been able to make big contributions to Republicans in the past doesn’t make you a political campaign expert, nor, as you seem to admit from your last comment, nor does it make you the go-to guy for political strategy.

      Look, I get and sympathize with your feeling. Like you, I have been a pretty large donor to candidates of my party (different party that yours, but still). And I resent it when someone with no history with the party or record of either giving or contributing in any substantive way, blows in and tries of seize leadership or win a major office. It especially pisses me off when they tell me: you should contribute the max, but please stay out of the way because we’re in charge now.

      Sethi does deserve withering attack. He is a disgusting disgrace of a candidate, and his ads (which is most of what I know about him) are shameful. But Hagerty is only marginally better, and then only because he has some actual experience governing. There is almost no difference in the two of them, issue-wise. As I have said before, I am puzzled that a party so dominant in this state, with such a deep bench, could not field better candidates for this position.

      • John says:

        Democrats like Perry, Stuart, Romney and Al Gore all prefer Hagerty to a real conservative outsider.

        • Perry Aubric says:

          I prefer a Democrat, John.

          But it’s good to see that you are remaining a constant fringe-dwelling, conspiracy-theory pandering, out-of-the-loop, right wing radical insignificance year after year after year.

      • Eddie White says:

        Nice Perry. You lecture Stuart on his wordy efforts on this particular blog which you say is a waste of time. Of course your response is a lengthy 4 paragraph response. You might save some of that insight for a more important blog.

        • Perry Aubric says:

          I don’t post the same thing every day for weeks. Stuart does. I can see the difference. Sorry you don’t have the same cognitive ability.

          • Eddie White says:

            If by lack of cognitive ability, you mean the inability to propagate and then discharge huge volumes of blog hot air, you are correct.

          • Stuart I. Anderson says:

            Perry, I’m insulted! Don’t you read my stuff? MANY, MANY times a day. Over and over again. Chairman Many is still running using the same theme, besides terrifying China and being a great Christian he is a (altogether together now audience) “CONSERVATIVE-OUTSIDER.” Now Perry, unless you convince him to drop out and get his butt back to the hospital where he is really needed someone has to point out “NO YOU’RE NOT”! That person is me!!!!!

    • Eddie White says:

      Stuart, you are correct on this ad. It is a stretch. Tells me the race is close.

  • Keith Richardson says:

    This just solidifies the reputation that Republican politicians have earned for being totally willing to lie about even the tiniest matter in order to gain and maintain power. I think that there are several scriptures that address the issue that don’t even require twisting to cited them.

  • Donna Locke says:

    Once again, it is the target of that ActBlue donation that is significant. Republican Virgil Goode, the target of that donation, lost his seat in Congress because of his support for immigration-enforcement-and reduction bills as Virginia went through demographic changes due to immigration and other factors.

    Jerry Kammer, a Pulitzered journalist now affiliated with the Center for Immigration Studies, has written a book titled Losing Control that will tell you how your country ended up in national suicide. He does not spare the media and their deceit and agendas.

    • MARLE says:

      That contribution in 2008 followed the Goode campaign being embroiled in huge illegal contribution scandal MZM. Goode himself was not indicted but many were. Maybe that, rather than his stand on immigration, is what lost him his seat. And maybe that is what prompted the donation. Corruption swirled all around him.

      • Donna Locke says:

        A swing from Republican to Democrat says more than that, though Perriello wasn’t in office long before another swing, all of these narrowly won outcomes. We had learned Goode was a target and why. It was not a secret.

        • MARLE says:

          His swing was just the opposite If we’re talking about Goode. He was for most of his life prior to his conversion (real or political expedience) a Dem. Then an independent. Then a Republican. And as for the issue at hand (Manny’s $50) we don’t know why he donated this couch-cushion amount but I doubt it was to unseat him over his immigration policies. And that is all that should matter in a TNJ post about the Tennessee Rep primary race in 2020

          • Donna Locke says:

            There were and are appeals to immigrants and their offspring to help defeat proponents of immigration enforcement and reduction of legal immigration. This is not rocket science.

  • These types of campaign tactics aren’t unusual. Moderates and democrats (and desperate conservatives) use these type and worse all the time. Nothing new here that I am seeing. People just emotional because race is potentially close. Toughen up people

  • Oh yeah…..timothy Hill is gonna lose too. Conservatives are finished and you have to have your own millions to win as a moderate. Just the truth. Sorry

    • Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Can’t believe they are going to let that No Record Candidate druggist buy the election! But then again, this is another Phil Lassiter prediction so why don’t we just wait until the votes are counted. With sixteen candidates, even Phil Lassiter can be wrong.

  • James White says:

    I got a survey call last night. If you talk to them long enough you can tell which camp is paying for the survey. They were Pushing Hagerty. I told them Hill No ! (got two birds with one stone, huh Stuart?)

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  • Thomas Jordan says:

    My bet’s on George Flinn this time. Watch and see the perennial candidate win.

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