Judge issues restraining order to block Restoring America ads after Democrats' request

10/17/2011 10:44 AM

UPDATED 12:02 p.m. A Franklin Circuit Judge issued a restraining order Monday to block the outside Republican group called Restoring America from continuing to air TV ads in this fall’s governor’s race.

The Democrats requested the order against Restoring America after it didn’t disclose its donors to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance on the most recent campaign finance report due last week. The group claimed income from a corporation of the same name, Restoring America.

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate signed the order saying that by “hiding contributors to the 527 from the public, (Restoring America) have immediately and irreparably harmed the (KDP) and the public of their right to have a transparent campaign finance system…”

Three stations — WBKI in Louisville, WKYT in Lexington and the Frankfort Plant Board that provides cable in Franklin County — already pulled the ads by noon Wednesday, said Scott Barber, an attorney for Gov. Steve Beshear’s campaign.

Barber — an attorney with Stites & Harbison, the governor’s former law firm — said any ruling by a circuit court judge in any county has a statewide effect. That makes it likely that other stations will have to pull the ads as well or else face a lawsuit.

The order goes on to say that by hiding the contributors to the group, the public nor watchdog agencies can tell if illegal coordination is occurring. Click to download the order: Restoring America Restraining Order.pdf

A phone message left with Jim Rutledge, a Columbus, Ohio, attorney listed as chairman for Restoring America, was not immediately.

Matt McGrath, communication director for the Democratic Party also did not immediately return a call.

To view the Democrats’ petition, click here: Democrats Petition pt 1.pdf and here for the other half: Democrats Petition pt 2.pdf

TV stations that received copies of the order include broadcast stations in Cincinnati (WCPO, Local 12, WLWT and Fox 19); Lexington’s WKYT and WTVQ; WYMT in Hazard; Louisville stations WAVE-3, FOX-41, WHAS-11; and cable companies Comcast Communications, the Frankfort Plant Board in Franklin County and Insight Communications. Insight is the parent company of cn|2.

Restoring America has raised more than $1.3 million dollars in TV ads, with the majority attacking Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is running for re-election. A few ads have advocated for Republican challenger David Williams.

Most recently, it launched four new ads this week.

On it’s latest finance report, Restoring America listed “Restoring America, Inc.” a business filed by Rutledge, as the only contributor to the campaign group.

The Beshear campaign is currently contacting TV stations with the restraining order, informing them that they could be liable in court if they continue to run Restoring America’s TV ads.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston


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