Iowa Supreme Court hears arguments in appeal of award in Sioux City lawmaker's defamation suit
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -
DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV)- During elections, politicians don't often hold back punches. But, a 2010 political ad that aired on television in Sioux City is under the microscope.
The Iowa Supreme Court is weighing whether the Iowa Democratic Party went too far against then Republican candidate and now State Senator Rick Bertrand.
A political ad is at the center of a political fight between State Senator Rick Bertrand, his opponent Rick Mullin, and the Iowa Democratic Party. But, Bertrand says it's not about Republicans versus Democrats.
"The Supreme Court has an opportunity, with Iowa again being first in the nation, to change the face of politics. The Supreme Court has an opportunity to say, 'enough is enough.' You just can't say anything, with the intention of malice behind it," said Bertrand.
The 2010 ad, which highlighted Bertrand's time as a sales representative for a Japanese company that manufactured sleep aids for children, Bertrand says hurt his reputation and implied that he owned the drug company, which he did not.
"He never sold these drugs. He, himself, did not own these companies, he did not market dangerous drugs to children." said Jeana Goosman, Bertrand's attorney.
But, Mullin's attorney argued that the information in the ad was true.
"It was based on data, that was all verifiable data. The jury could not reasonably, under this instruction, and under the way the ad was framed, believe that they were talking about one of his Sioux City companies," said Mark McCormick, Mullin's Attorney.
While Bertrand is asking for a second trial on punitive damages related to the injury to his reputation, Mullin and the Democratic Party are asking the Iowa Supreme Court to overturn the jury's decision.
Jeana Goosmann said, "Politics is a rough game. There are sharp attacks and so on and so forth. You can call people opinions, your opinions, but it's the provable false lie, that is at issue here."
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