Donald Trump’s attorney is a man named Alan Garten. Mr. Garten has been busy these past few days, sending out “cease and desist” orders to at least two parties. Florida businessman, Mike Fernandez and James Robinson, who is the treasurer of Jeb Bush’s leadership PAC, Right to Rise.
Mr. Fernandez paid for a full page ad in the Miami Herald earlier this month. In it, he called Donald Trump a “narcissistic BULLYionaire with a hunger to be adored.” Can’t argue with that. Fernandez also plans to run the same ad in Las Vegas and Des Moines newspapers on the 14th of the month. Fernandez happens to be one of the biggest backers of Jeb Bush, the single highest donor of Bush’s PAC. He contributed $3 million to Right to Rise.
This may be why Garten sent one of the letters to the RTR. But you can bet that he wasn’t ready for the response he received from the PAC’s counsel, Charlie Spies. Mr. Spies first pointed out that Right to Rise is a Leadership PAC, which does not produce ads but only raises money for candidates. Spies refers Garten to the website of the Federal Elections Commission (www.fec.gov) to learn the difference between a Leadership PAC and a Super PAC (or try here for a simpler explanation). He assures Garten that RTR has no intention of producing any advertisements about his client because that is not what RTR does. Then comes the best burn ever:
…we are intrigued (but not surprised) by your continued efforts to silence critics of your client’s campaign by employing litigious threats and bullying. Should your client actually be elected Commander-in-Chief, will you be the one writing the cease and desist letters to Vladimir Putin, or will that be handled by outside counsel?
Ouch. That one had to sting. But, as Spies points out, Trump and Garten need to understand that, as a presidential candidate, the former will and should be fact-checked. Doing so is a First Amendment issue, something Garten should look into:
If you have the time between bankruptcy filings and editing reality show contracts, we urge you to flip through the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. If your client is so thin-skinned that he cannot handle his critics’ presentation of his own public statements, policies and record to the voting public, and if such communications hurts his feelings, he is welcome to purchase airtime to defend his record.
Spies ends by bringing up the FEC’s prohibition against a federal candidate using corporate resources for campaign purposes. Oh, and he attached a copy of a complaint that Right to Rise filed with FEC on Thursday as a “reminder of your client’s legal obligations under federal election laws.” He ends by wishing Garten the best in his attempts to learn election law.
Listen, I’m no fan of Jeb Bush. But the lawyer for his Leadership PAC gets a “well done” from me. That was one hell of a trolling.
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