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WATCH: Is This The Worst Attack Ad Of 2014?

Memo Pad Politics

WATCH: Is This The Worst Attack Ad Of 2014?


The Republican Governors Association released one of the nastiest campaign ads of the year on Monday, accusing South Carolina state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen (D) of siding with violent criminals over South Carolinians.

“It’s a fact: Trial lawyer Vincent Sheheen made money off criminals,” the ad’s female narrator says darkly. “Got a sex offender out of jail time. Defended a child abuser. And represented others charged with violent acts.”

“Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women, and went to work setting them free. So next time Sheheen says he’ll protect women from violent criminals, ask him: What about the ones who paid him?” the ad concludes. “Vincent Sheheen protects criminals. Not us.”

The ad references Sheheen’s past legal work; although the majority of his career has focused on civil cases, he has represented at least three men who were charged with criminal domestic violence. According to incumbent governor Nikki Haley (R), that is inconsistent with his legislative plans to fight violence against women.

Democrats, predictably, disagree.

“As a former prosecutor, Vincent has seen what families and victims go through and he has worked with law enforcement to hold criminals accountable and achieve justice,” Sheheen’s campaign manager Andrew Whalen told The State. “This dishonest ad by Nikki Haley’s DC friends is a disgusting and desperate attempt to distract from children being abused and dying because of the reckless leadership at Haley’s Department of Social Services.”

Whalen’s latter remark refers to ongoing investigations into child deaths associated with the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Sheheen has called on the department’s director, Lillian Koller — a Haley appointee — to be removed from office.

The vicious attack ad makes it clear that the RGA is not taking Sheheen’s campaign lightly. Haley defeated Sheheen by 4 percent in their surprisingly-close 2010 matchup; early polling of their 2014 rematch suggests that Haley may have a more comfortable margin this November.

Screenshot: YouTube

Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. Ann-Marie Poli April 22, 2014

    We are entering dangerous waters when we judge lawyers for the clients they represent or block nominations, such as DOJ nominee Debo Adegbile for head of the Civil Rights Division based on past cases. These people are being punished for doing their job. If outside forces begin dictating who gets representation and who does not, we might as well pack it up. We’re done.

  2. jbandsma April 22, 2014

    Hypocrisy thy name is Niki Haley. Who cut money for shelters and rape prosecutions calling them “distractions”? ( Vetoed half a million dollars slated for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention) Gee, was that our governor? Certainly was.

    1. Mark Forsyth April 22, 2014

      Hopefully,the Sheheen campaign will exploit that interesting tidbit to its fullest.

  3. Paul Bass April 22, 2014

    Gee, I thought we were “innocent till proven guilty” and “if you cannot afford an attorney the state will provide one”. But we know how true those statements are in the criminal justice system.

  4. terry b April 22, 2014

    How could anyone in their right mind back Haley? Like in Wisconsin, she is also a terrible governor. She is not a known criminal like Scott Walker but still has a serious problem with dealing with the problems facing the state. I’m sure that Healy is also anti women’s rights just like the endless array of nutcases that have infected the GOP. Lets hope that both states get rid of terrible governors with someone who is considered to be decent by a large majority of their citizens.

  5. stcroixcarp April 22, 2014

    This tactic worked for George H.W. Bush with the Willie Horton adds. It worked in Wisconsin against a Supreme Court Justice the shadow groups called Loop Hole Louie getting sex offenders out of jail. In fact the sex offender had served his time and was released according to the law. There was a strong element of racism there too. There was an ethics investigation about the winner of the race, Justice Gableman. In Wisconsin a Justice can be removed from the court for simply lying. Count on the GOP to use any tactic necessary to win. Let truth and ethics be damned!

  6. jointerjohn April 22, 2014

    Sadly, until the public stops taking their candidate information from thirty-second TV ads from unscrupulous and sometimes even unknown sources, this kind of campaigning will prevail. Too many Americans like to remain ignorant and feed on informational junk food diets. The lazy ones can take a message like this, use it for their reason to oppose that candidate, and return immediately to their brainless entertainments. When Governor Bobby Jindal told the republican party in late 2012 they needed to stop being the stupid party he failed to acknowledge an important fact. Millions of Americans WANT a stupid party, they like it that way.

  7. Daniel Jones April 22, 2014

    Again we note the do-nothing Republican bloc feels attacking someone for doing their job–defending clients as lawyers–is appropriate.

  8. Mark Forsyth April 22, 2014

    Well,I think we all should be familiar with the dirty pool tactics used by the knuckle draggers by now. The job is to not let the lies go unchallenged.

  9. mah101 April 22, 2014

    So people are innocent until proven guilty and have the right of representation, yet those that fulfill that socially critical role of representation don’t have the right to do so without facing consequences?

    Really people, how out of touch with our foundational national values does one need to be today?

  10. elw April 22, 2014

    The Constitution requires that criminals get speedy and fair trials. It is one of the reasons we have special, tax paid, offices that provide legal services for people who cannot afford their own attorney. It is not easy to defend someone who you think is guilty and it takes a deep love of the Constitution to do it. I have personally known public defenders and to me they are heroes who are doing a job for which people sometime dislike them; – but they do it because they know that some people are wrongfully charged and their belief in the concept that people must be proven guilty before they are punished.

  11. geoffinbaja April 22, 2014

    Shows how much real respect the GOP has for the rule of law, despite all their bleating about being “patriots”. That ad alone would get Sheheen my vote.

  12. Allan Richardson April 22, 2014

    Have we forgotten who defended the British soldiers accused of the Boston Massacre, which helped start the Revolution? John Adams, the same man who went on to become our second President. By the “logic” in this ad, he should have been disqualified from running (or even, God forbid, from helping to write our Constitution) because he defended our (then future) enemies in court!

    EVERY defendant, no matter HOW despicable, deserves a competent defense, whose DUTY is to put aside his or her prejudices and find the best evidence that can honestly be presented for his or her client. Defending a “bad guy” does not make the attorney bad, although some bad guys do become attorneys in order to defend bad guys. Someone had to defend the Nazi leaders who survived to be tried at Nuremburg, and that included some Americans who probably hated Nazism. For that matter, SOME attorney who was (is he still alive?) an Israeli citizen, and a Jew, had to defend Eichmann when he was put on trial in Israel in 1961. Was that attorney disloyal because he defended a Nazi butcher? No, because if a defendant does not have a competent defense attorney, the legal and moral authority of the prosecution is tainted as a “kangaroo court.”

    If Nikki Haley is, aside from being Governor, an attorney, she should not only apologize to her opponent, and to the opposing party, but to the South Carolina Bar and all her fellow attorneys, for besmirching their profession with this advertisement.

  13. Irishgrammy April 22, 2014

    When the Republican/Tea Party lie ad nauseam about literally everything President Obama does, tries to do, and/or any accomplishment he achieves, even his very being, is it any wonder what this infamous political party has become as it sinks to any new low to attack unfairly, demean, debase, and outright fantasize, twist sickening falsehoods to achieve power at all costs in ANY election in this country at this point, backed, of course with Koch money among others with equally selfish intent and greedy motivation! With the acquiescence and “favor” of the Supreme courts recent decisions along with Republican controlled legislatures playing “voter-fraud” roulette, that we all know is VOTER SUPRESSION, this country has become a mockery to democracy. When lying liars know their lies work on lazy, uninformed voters, and/or desperate voters, many who are simply trying to survive day to day, the Koch brothers and their nefarious pacs, along with all the other far right power money men will have what they want NOW and forever……. until those voters wake up and realize how badly they are being played in the transparent game these groups are cynically playing, at ALL of our expense! It is the worst kind of assault on democracy, civility, and simply what is morally right.

  14. ThomasBonsell April 22, 2014

    This GOP ad isn’t aimed just at one politician seeking another elected post, it is aimed directly at the United States Constitution. Nothing new here.

    The Constitution makes it plainly clear in the Sixth Amendment that a criminal defendant has an iron-clad right to be assisted by legal representation in all criminal cases. That requirement is passed onto the states by the Fourteenth Amendment. If there is no legal assistance, there is no power of the government to take any action against the accused. Therefore a criminal-defense attorney is also preserving the state’s power to punish the despicable. That should never be use against any attorney.

    But the GOP just did that recently to block the appointment by Obama of an attoirney to a civil-rights post.

    The modern Republican Party is an anti-American, subversive outfit.

  15. JO April 22, 2014

    The tactic worked a few years ago in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race to get one of the crooked, Koch / Walker justices elected.

  16. progressiveandproud April 23, 2014

    These are republicans, lying is in their DNA.

  17. Uncle Rex April 26, 2014

    Since each of us has unique intellect, talents, and experience, the only way to make us all equal is to treat each of us unequally.


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