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Public Citizen Calls on Cornyn to Pull Attack Ad

Oct. 17, 2002

Public Citizen Calls on Cornyn to Pull Attack Ad

Ad About Kirk Inappropriately Uses Quote from Public Citizen

AUSTIN, Texas – Public Citizen today called on John Cornyn, the Texas attorney general and candidate for U.S. Senate, to stop running a campaign ad that uses a news article quoting Public Citizen to disparage his opponent.

The television ad questions how Cornyn’s opponent, Ron Kirk, would respond as a senator in a clutch vote. The ad’s voice-over cites a government watchdog group while a newspaper quote attributed to the Texas office of Public Citizen appears on the screen. Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that does not endorse candidates.

“I am writing to ask you to pull this ad,” wrote Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “If you are willing to appropriate Public Citizen’s name for an attack ad without consulting us, what else are you willing to do?”

Smith wrote that even though he may question how Kirk would vote, he is certain that Cornyn would continue the pattern that he established as attorney general, which is to favor industries – such as big polluters, energy giants and the insurance industry – over people. For instance, Cornyn failed to act against Alcoa, Texas’ largest air polluter, leaving environmental groups to step in. Cornyn also failed to seriously investigate the energy industry in Texas, despite the fact that Texas companies have been implicated in other states for defrauding investors and misrepresenting earnings, Smith wrote.

Further, Cornyn settled a lawsuit his predecessor brought against Aetna that charged the company with violating the law and alleging that it offered doctors incentives to withhold medically necessary care. The settlement didn’t require the company to admit wrongdoing, pay a fine or even cover the state’s legal costs, only to start following the law.

“You portray yourself as being tough on crime, but if you are, why haven’t you gone after the corporate criminals?” Smith wrote. “We don’t have to ask whose side you are on. Your record shows clearly that you are on the side of the corporate criminals – not the people.”

Click here to view a copy of the letter.