Oct 4, 2022 - Politics

Evan McMullin sues conservative PAC, Utah TV stations over misleading ad

Evan McMullin headshot.

Utah's Evan McMullin speaks during an interview on July 23, 2022, in Provo, Utah. Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

Evan McMullin's Senate campaign filed a lawsuit Tuesday against conservative super PAC Club for Growth Action and local television stations over a misleading political ad.

Driving the news: McMullin claims the ad, which began airing last week, misconstrues his comments about Republicans.

  • The 30-second ad shows him saying "The Republican base is racist … these bigots."

Reality check: The ad in question splices comments McMullin made during a 2017 CNN interview centered around the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • He actually said: "Not all Republicans, of course, are racist. I was raised by Republicans who are not at all, and who welcome Americans of all backgrounds, and are not at all like this … but there is an element of the Republican base that is racist.”
  • "We need leaders, especially on the Republican and conservative side these days, who will serve the country and serving the country means standing up to these bigots," he continued.

Context: McMullin, an independent candidate who describes himself as a conservative, is vying to unseat two-term Sen. Mike Lee.

  • Club for Growth Action, which supports Lee, did not respond to Axios' request for comment.
  • McMullin, who is already airing an advertisement in response, told Axios he would like to see Lee denounce the doctored ad.

The other side: "Coordination between a campaign and a political action committee is prohibited by the Federal Election Commission. Our campaign has no control over the content of the message or how it is used," Lee's campaign spokesperson Matt Lusty said in a statement.

Why it matters: The lawsuit alleges the ad threatens the ability of Utah voters to make informed decisions ahead of the Nov. 8 midterm elections.

What's next: The campaign is seeking damages and for a judge to restrain the political action committee from further airing the ad.

  • It was broadcasted on KSL, but the local station agreed to remove it after being contacted by McMullin's campaign over its accuracy.
  • FOX 13, KUTV and ABC 4 declined to voluntarily remove it, according to the lawsuit.

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