Attack ads are prominent features of political campaigns in the United States, especially in the run-up to an election. But the campaign behind Oregon Governor Kate Brown says the latest marijuana attack ad against her crosses the line. The televised ad accuses Gov. Kate Brown’s administration of a number of things. But what touched a nerve is a segment that claims it’s legal to sell drugs (i.e. cannabis) while running a daycare. Attorneys for Brown’s campaign have issued letters to Oregon broadcasters demanding they cease airing the ad, calling its claim a total falsehood. Nothing requires TV stations to drop the ad, however.
Gov. Brown’s Campaign Says Marijuana Attack Ad Is Illegal and Untrue
The conservative group Priority Oregon paid for the ad Gov. Kate Brown’s campaign is calling illegal. The secretive, business-oriented group has had Gov. Brown in its sights since early January. And Priority Oregon has taken such an aggressive approach to Oregon politics that it has alienated itself from many mainstream lobby groups.
Earlier this month, Priority Oregon posted an ad titled “Scary” to its Facebook page. The ad depicts a woman reading a bedtime book to her two children. It begins with the woman flipping through an illustrated book alleging Gov. Brown is covering up abuses at the state’s daycare centers and nursing homes.
Then, the woman flips to a page with a suspicious looking man holding a bag of cannabis surrounded by children. On the facing page, the text reads, “You can sell drugs while running a daycare.”
“That is scary,” one of the children in the ad replies. But Gov. Brown’s campaign is calling that claim a complete lie. And indeed, state regulations prohibit people holding a medical cannabis license or anyone who can grow or distribute marijuana from obtaining a license as a child care provider. Furthermore, numerous provisions of Oregon state law make it illegal to sell or keep drugs at a child care center.
Brown’s campaign lawyer Harry Wilson said, “Priority Oregon’s ad misinforms and deceives Oregonians.” As such, Wilson asked television stations to acknowledge the false and illegal nature of Priority Oregon’s claims and take down the ad.
Priority Oregon Defends Its Marijuana Attack Ad
Priority Oregon, while staunchly anti-Democrat, hasn’t explicitly come out against the state’s legal cannabis program. But it is exploiting public health and safety concerns over legal marijuana to make false claims about the risk cannabis poses to children.
According to Priority Oregon’s executive director Erica Hetfeld, however, there’s nothing untrue about “Scary” at all.e
Hetfeld cited the case of Samuel Watson, a dispensary owner and operator with a business in North Portland. Watson also hired other care providers to operate a daycare inside his home. Two of those employees quit and reportedly told regulators they believed Watson stored cannabis inside the home daycare.
Watson denied the allegations. And an investigation turned up no cannabis at his residence. He still operates his dispensary but under a different name. The daycare center is now closed.