Governor’s Lawyers Ask Stations to Pull Spot

LOS ANGELES A law firm representing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Recovery Team has sent a letter to television station managers around the state requesting that they verify the truth of an ad or pull it from the air.

The letter from Thomas W. Hiltachk of the Sacramento, Calif., firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk concerns a spot that broke yesterday [Adweek Online, Oct. 4]. Paid for by the “No on Proposition 74, Teachers & School Board Members for Quality Education Committee,” part of the umbrella group Alliance for Better California, it opposes Schwarzenegger-endorsed initiatives. Representatives of “No on Prop. 74” did not return phone calls.

The ad attacks Gov. Schwarzenegger as having broken promises to schools and contains the copy, “Now his Prop 74 allows a principal to fire a teacher without giving a reason, or even a hearing.”

The letter states, “The 30-second commercial contains statements that are objectively false, and we demand that the advertisement be removed from the air immediately.”

It stipulates that while the firm does not “condone censorship,” station managers are entitled to “demand verification of the facts asserted in any broadcast advertising. If the No on Proposition 74 Committee cannot substantiate its claims (and it will not be able to do so), then you should demand that the ad be modified or retracted.”

The letter goes on to cite the initiative’s proposed amendments to the Education Code, the current law involving the dismissal of teachers, and the State’s Official Voter Information Guide. “Thus, the Legislative Analyst concurs that Proposition 74 does not dispense with the requirement that termination be based on a “reason” and that it does not dispense with the right existing under current law to an administrative hearing.”

The letter states that if the ad’s sponsors cannot “validate the claims made in its advertisement,” it should be “pulled from the air immediately.”

“This is standard operating procedure for the political season,” said Becky Zoglman, a representative of the California Teachers Association, a part of the Alliance for Better California endorsing the ad. “It is a standard ploy because they don’t like what’s being said in the ad and they know people are rejecting the initiative.”

Zoglman said she has had “no conversations with television stations contacting the CTA with concerns about the ad.”