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North Carolina Attorney General Opposes Campaign Ad Investigation

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Hanna Schoenbaum

FILE - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in favor of protecting abortion access during a news conference at the North Carolina Department of Justice in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. The campaign committee for Stein, desperate to dodge possible criminal prosecution in a libel investigation into its political ads, asked a federal appeals court Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, to immediately block enforcement of a seldom used libel law before the Wake County district attorney impanels a grand jury.
File - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein speaks in favor of protecting access to abortion at a press conference at the North Carolina Department of Justice in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wednesday, August 3, 2022. That political ad called on the U.S. Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, to immediately block enforcement of the seldom-used defamation statute before the Wake County District Attorney impeaches the grand jury. Photo Credit: Hannah Schoenbaum /THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Raleigh, North Carolina (AP) — North Campaign Commissioner Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein Wednesday asked a federal court to block the enforcement of a rarely used defamation law.

Stein's campaign We have filed a motion with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an interim injunction barring law enforcement in the wake of a 2020 Republican challenger-targeted TV ad attack.

At least his 1931 law makes it illegal to knowingly disseminate false "defamation reports" that could undermine a candidate's electoral chances. The campaign motion came as the Wake County district attorney was preparing to select a grand jury.

While the court assesses whether it violates the First Amendment right to free speech, the motion has prompted district attorneys to campaign for "broad, poorly tailored criminal defamation statutes." urged to stop enforcing what is called

A Democratic Attorney General and potential 2024 gubernatorial candidate caught between his political outlook and his duty to defend state law, the criminal law he intended to defend I found myself struggling with the enforcement of offense campaign.

Stein's 2020 Republican rival — Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O'Neill — cited the law in a complaint to the North Carolina Election Commission and Wake County District Attorney Rollin Freeman. The investigation had to continue even after the Election Commission, which urged the office of Election Commission, to drop the lawsuit against Stein's campaign committee in 2021.

"Wake County, North Carolina District Attorney Threatens to Enforce Defamation Laws in a Way to Suppress and Undermine Public Discourse. Integrity of North Carolina's Democratic Process." Presley Millen, Stein's campaign lawyer, wrote:

O'Neill's campaign argued that Stein's commercials were a testament to Republicans that he left more than 1,000 rape kits untested because police, not prosecutors, were responsible for testing rape kits. It claims that it is accused of

Misdemeanor offenses carry a penalty of up to 60 days in prison and a fine, but if you have no criminal record, you can avoid jail time if convicted. prize.

Stein also filed an emergency motion on Wednesday asking the Court of Appeals to issue a ruling by Friday "due to imminent grand jury proceedings."

His latest lawsuit, while Stein's campaign and other plaintiffs seek to overturn the law, was denied by U.S. District Judge Katherine Eagles on Monday to overturn the law. It follows what has been done.

The Eagles argue that the law is constitutionally permissible because it "crimes false and defamatory statements about public officials with actual malice," and that the law does not provide sufficient protection for protected speech. Give it "breathing room."


Hannah Schoenbaum is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues. Follow her on her Twitter at–Schoenbaum.

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