The Koch brothers' Freedom Partners Action Fund decided to take on Russ Feingold with a $2 million ad buy. One problem for the Kochs: The ad was based on a lie, and now three Wisconsin television stations are refusing to air it.
Jonathan Berkon and David Lazarus of the Perkins Coie law firm, which represents Feingold's campaign, sent a two-page letter on Wednesday to TV stations around the state challenging the accuracy of the ad. Their letter called the commercial "false, misleading and deceptive."
"For the sake of both FCC licensing requirements and the public interest, your station must immediately cease airing this advertisement," Berkon and Lazarus wrote.
In response, the lawyers said, three stations -- WMSN-TV in Madison and WLUK-TV and WGBA-TV in Green Bay -- have agreed to stop running the TV spot.
The ad accuses Feingold of ignoring a 2009 memo detailing problems at the Tomah VA Medical Center when he was still in the Senate, problems that resulted in the deaths of three patients who were over-prescribed painkillers. The problem with the ad—which the author of the memo confirms—is that the memo was never sent to Feingold. The other problem for Republican Ron Johnson and his Koch buddies is that Johnson's office did receive information about the problems at Tomah in 2014, and Johnson remained completely oblivious to it until the following year. That, and Johnson's pathetic excuse-making about why he was in the dark makes him a ripe target for the Feingold campaign.
Looks like this was a bad $2 million investment for the Kochs—they're getting bad press for creating this lie, and they opened up their guy Johnson for the counterattack. Not a great opening foray for them in this particular Senate fight.