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Dole’s Competitor Files Defamation Suit Over ‘Godless’ Claim

WASHINGTON (RNS) Democrat Kay Hagan filed a defamation suit Thursday (Oct. 30) against Sen. Elizabeth Dole’s re-election campaign, saying her opponent for a Senate seat from North Carolina inaccurately accused her of having ties to an atheist political action committee.
“A leader of the Godless Americans PAC recently held a secret fundraiser in Kay Hagan’s honor,” says the Dole ad. It ends with a female voice — not Hagan’s — saying “there is no God.”
In the suit, filed in a Wake County, N.C., court, Hagan charges that Dole, a one-term Republican, and her campaign maligned her reputation with the ad that “falsely implies that (Hagan) shares the views of an entity that calls itself the Godless Americans PAC.”
Hagan states in the suit that she attended a September fundraiser at the Boston home of Woody Kaplan but never took contributions from the Godless Americans PAC.
Ellen Johnson, executive director of Enlighten the Vote, the new name of the PAC, said Kaplan was a former advisory board member but was involved in the fundraiser independently of the PAC.
In an ad responding to Dole’s accusations, Hagan declares her faith in God and speaks of her years of teaching Sunday school.
“I approve this message because my campaign is about creating jobs and fixing our economy, not bearing false witness against fellow Christians,” Hagan said.
Johnson was featured in a TV clip in the Dole ad.
“Kay Hagan has nothing to do with our PAC and she didn’t ask for our endorsement,” Johnson said in an interview. “We didn’t endorse her…
It just shows how desperate Elizabeth Dole is, but it’s a political tactic that is very effective. One day that won’t be effective. Today, unfortunately, it still is.”
Dole campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Dole’s Web site has posted an ad responding to Hagan’s rebuttal.
“If Godless Americans threw a party in your honor, would you go?” it asked.
Ed Buckner, who recently succeeded Johnson as president of American Atheists, said the Dole ad’s inclusion of two people who have represented his organization was unfair.
“We’re nonpartisan and to be dragged into the partisanship in this way is not fair to us and it’s almost certainly unfair to the candidate,” said Buckner, also a former member of the Godless PAC’s advisory committee. “The Dole campaign is engaged in improper and unreasonable advertising.”
By Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • nnmns

    To be called “godless” is a complement but it’s not a help if you are looking for votes in North Carolina. Elizabeth Dole has been a failure as a Senator and I think her incompetence is catching up with her so, like so many Republicans when they are behind, she’s taking the low road.
    Let’s hope her politics of hatred and fear, and McCain’s, lose big time Tuesday.

  • pagansister

    North Carolina is not the place to mention “godlessness”. That is a “bad” thing for a person to be in NC.
    Yes, nnmns, many probably think I am “godless” but as you so wisely mentioned…it is a compliment and not a “bad thing” at all!
    All this will be over Tuesday evening…not a minute too soon.

  • Evangelartist

    The woman got carried away and said something she shouldn’t have. I did the same thing here on this site once but apologized. She should do the same. Simple. She shouldn’t let her second mistake be one of pride.

  • jestrfyl

    At one time Ms Dole seemed to be a person who would take the high road in all matters political. It seems that this is no longer the case. Sad, sad, sad. I wonder who is advising her and why she took such poor advice. I would like to hope she is not so desperate to keep her senate seat as to be reduced to such foolish acts. If she is that desperate, then it IS time for her to leave.

  • nnmns

    “The woman got carried away and said something she shouldn’t have.”
    It’s in a paid political ad she approved, not something done in a moment of passion.

  • michael sellers

    be reminded the body of the constitution says” there is no religious test for office. so get over it.

  • Susan

    That add had an actress faking Kay Hagan’s voice saying “There is not God. That takes considerable planning.
    I wonder what sort of add Dole would have been willing to put on the air against a Jewish candidate maybe an ad where her opponent says that she doesn’t believe in Jesus which at least would be true, but it would also be considered a very bad thing in N.C.

  • cknuck

    people know the world’s desperation for godly people to step up and they play on that desperation with such tactics as this, its not only poor judgment but it is selling God. Dole playing the God card is actually showing her willingness to sin to get what she wants. How low can a politician go?

  • pagansister

    Well Dole isn’t the senator from NC anymore. Probably for more than one reason. Apparently one of those reasons is that Dole was spending more time in DC and not checking in with those that voted her into that office.

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