MoveOn is running ads in southern states where Republican governors, for reasons that are beyond my grasp, have refused the free Medicaid money that would probably guarantee their reelections. But one awful republican won't take this lying down. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has warned MoveOn of a suit if it persists on, apparently, telling the truth about Jindal's terrible policy of not expanding Medicaid, which could improve and save thousands of lives in his state.
Or this is how it was described to me in the email that was sent to me by MoveOn yesterday:
MoveOn is being threatened with legal action by the state of Louisiana after we bought a billboard criticizing Governor Bobby Jindal for preventing 242,000 Louisianans from accessing Medicaid.
In politics, a frivolous lawsuit or the threat of it—combined with a smart reaction—can be a golden opportunity. On the other hand, the wrong reaction can be disastrous. That's why what we do now—which is dependent on you—is so important.
Here's what happened: This week, MoveOn put up billboards in red states criticizing Tea Party governors for refusing federal funds to expand Medicaid. The billboards are working really well, and are getting a ton of press coverage.
Now, the Republican lieutenant governor of Louisiana wants us to take down a billboard criticizing Governor Jindal—who has presidential ambitions—because it's a takeoff on the state's tourism slogan, "Pick Your Passion." This is a blatant attack on free speech. A state government isn't entitled to use trademark law to censor citizens who want to criticize the state for its heartless and stupid policies.
The good news is, legal action like this can be a dream when it comes to focusing press coverage on the need for Medicaid expansion. If we take this on from a position of strength, unapologetically doubling down on our Medicaid campaigning right now—while preparing to vigorously defend ourselves against a potential lawsuit—we can score a big win.On the other hand, if we let Louisiana Republicans bully us into silence, then we could face similar legal battles in every other state where we put up billboards. We're committed to standing up to bullies. But to do that, it's crucial that we have the resources to take this on and win."
The ad in question seemed to be quite harmless and also absolutely true. I have no idea what legal grounds that Jindal would be suing under even with a judiciary that's full of GOP sympathizers. Here's what it said: "Louisiana pick your passion. But hope you don't love your health. Gov. Jindal's denying Medicaid to 242000." The trademark angle seems interesting but this is political speech and not commercial speech. Of course, who knows what goes on in the minds of partisan judges. Still, the lawsuit sounds like a long shot and kind of silly.
If you like what MoveOn is doing I highly recommend that you support them with their fundraiser here.
Related: MoveOn could also run ads here in Pennsylvania but our Republican Governor Tom Corbett seems to deeply endangered. A recent poll put him about 20 points behind current Democratic Party frontrunner Tom Wolf. Good riddance I say. I also wholeheartedly agree with Keystone Politics take on Corbett working to get a modified deal that would be much worse than what the government is actually offering. Hey, this is personal in that I'm actually eligible for the Medicaid expansion. I can wait until a Democrat takes over the governor's mansion in November.