Schock lawyer demands 'false' ads be pulled


Ads being run against U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, have messages that are “plainly disproven by fact,” and should be pulled, according to a lawyer for the congressman.

The ads have been running on Fox News stations on cable systems across the 18th Congressional District, said Steve Shearer, Schock’s chief of staff. Similar radio ads have also been running in the district from the same sponsoring group — Jobs & Progress Fund.

An official of WICS-TV in Springfield said the group has purchased $34,300 worth of time combined on that Springfield broadcast station and its sister station in Champaign, WICD. Those ads started running Wednesday and are scheduled to continue through Jan. 26, said Jennifer Valenti, local sales manager at WICS.

A letter sent Thursday by Chicago lawyer John Fogarty Jr., on behalf  of the Schock campaign, to Comcast Cable in Bingham Farms, Mich.,  states that an allegation on the ad that Schock “voted for the biggest tax increase in half a century” is “demonstrably false.”

Fogarty’s letter states that the group running the ads cites a Jan. 1 vote by Schock. That was on the legislation that resulted from the recent “fiscal cliff” debate. Tax cuts from the era of President George Bush had expired at the end of Dec. 31, so the vote actually reinstated cuts for most Americans.  However, the bill also raised rates from what they had been last year for individuals making at least $400,000 and couples topping $450,000.

“The passage of H.R. 8 on January 1st cut taxes significantly,” Fogarty said in the letter. “Indeed, the universally respected and non-partisan Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation … and the Congressional Budget Office … each scored H.R. 8 as nearly a four trillion dollar revenue decrease over the next decade.”

“Your station is hereby on notice that the Advertisement makes false statements intended to deliberately deceive Illinois voters and defame Congressman Schock’s reputation,” the letter states. “Based on the foregoing, we respectfully demand that your station immediately cease the airing of this false and misleading Advertisement. …”

An earlier statement from Schock’s office had called the ads “blatantly false.”

“The ad is from a previously unheard of out-of-state organization (Jobs & Progress Fund) that does not disclose who is funding it,” that statement said.

“The ad is not a stretch of the truth — it is the opposite of the truth,” it adds. “Congressman Schock has never voted for a tax increase and the American(s) for Tax Reform Committee has verified that.”

Americans for Tax Reform has a no-tax pledge signed by many lawmakers including Schock. Grover Norquist, its leader, had noted via Twitter when the House was voting on the measure that the Bush tax cuts had expired, and those voting for the bill were “cutting taxes and keeping his/her pledge.”

Crain’s Chicago Business reported that a group called Ohio First for a Better Government registered as a nonprofit corporation in Dayton on March 8, 2011, and changed its name to Jobs & Progress Fund Inc. last month. The group was incorporated by David Langdon, whom Crain’s said was a prominent attorney in Cincinnati for several conservative nonprofit groups.

A message left for Langdon Thursday was not immediately returned.

In a radio ad being played in Springfield, a man and woman are talking about Schock. The man says that Schock “sided with the liberals and raised taxes.”

“Unbelievable,” the woman says.

Shearer said all stations found to be running the ads would be asked to discontinue them.

Valenti said when such a request is received at WICS, the station asks the advertiser for a script and substantiation of claims, and will pull the ad in 24 hours if that information is not received. When the information is received, company lawyers usually decide within a day if they will pull the ad, she said.

Shearer said Schock is considering “which position he can do the most good at” between running in 2014 for another term in the U.S. House, or in seeking to be Illinois governor. Schock is not interested in running for U.S. Senate in 2014, Shearer added. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat and Springfield resident, is up for re-election that year.

Bernard Schoenburg can be reached at 788-1540. Follow him via