DALLAS — An attorney for Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Mike Collier is asking Texas television stations to remove an attack ad produced by Dan Patrick or require Patrick to substantiate his claims about Collier.
Collier’s attorney, Michael Patrick Doyle, sent the request in a letter to station managers across Texas on Tuesday.
Doyle’s letter asks that media organizations “be responsible to the community you serve and act with reasonable care to ensure that advertisements published are not ‘false or misleading.’”
Patrick’s latest commercial claims that Collier supports open borders, would dismantle Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and supports the Green New Deal, among other things.
But the 30-second spot, Patrick’s ad, does not cite any sources back to news articles or political appearances made by Collier.
“There is no citation to public or private statements alleged to be made by Mike Collier at any time that would in any way be consistent with the factual claims,” Doyle writes in the letter to broadcast station managers. “At a minimum, we would ask that you request some manner of verification before continuing to accept advertising revenues associated with the advertisement.”
But broadcasters have little choice with Federal Communications Commission regulations.
Legal experts said if Patrick sponsored the ad, which he did, and if his image appears in it somewhere, which it does at the end, then it’s protected by the FCC.
Patrick released a video in response to Collier's request where he showed a clip of Collier in an interview where he says "if you line up [Biden's] policy point of view with my policy point of view, you don't see a whole lot of daylight."
"Don't we all know that Joe Biden wants open borders, he want to allow girls to play boy's sports, he wants to crush the oil and gas industry and raise taxes?" Collier says in the video.
WFAA received a letter from the Collier campaign on Tuesday requesting the Patrick ad be taken off the air. However, the FCC specifically states that broadcasters have no power of censorship over political ads that come from a legally qualified candidate for public office.
“The latest attack from Dan Patrick is an egregious betrayal of the public’s trust that further demonstrates his desperation in the final days of a failed incumbency. We are disappointed in Dan Patrick’s willingness to lie to the general public, but we are certainly not surprised—it is to be expected from an extremist who has built his career through generating falsehoods, fear, and partisanship,” said Erin Mincberg Spiegel, senior strategist for Collier for Texas, in a statement.
Collier, a former Republican, is challenging Patrick for a second time. Patrick leads polls but this campaign, like the one in 2018, remains a single-digit race.
Patrick’s campaign stands by its commercial even though it never cited the claims made.
“Mike Collier’s campaign is running on fumes as early voting begins. The Patrick campaign advertising is effective, and our lead is widening,” said Allen Blakemore, Patrick’s long time political strategist. “Mike Collier has proudly proclaimed that he and President Biden are in complete alignment on policy, that there is no daylight between them. He has not disavowed Biden’s destructive policies that are wrecking the Texas economy and putting Texans’ lives at risk.”
Still, Collier’s campaign calls the Patrick ad a “clear breach of the standards set forth by the Federal Communications Commission.”
But it’s uncertain how far Collier is willing to take his complaint with early voting already underway.