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Justices' Campaign Calls New Ad 'Absolutely False'

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Justices' Campaign Calls New Ad 'Absolutely False'

By Phil Williams. CREATED Jul 19, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first TV attack ad aimed at three incumbent state Supreme Court justices has hit the air.

But, in a news conference called Saturday afternoon, the campaign for the justices urged voters not to believe it.

"The most liberal place in Tennessee?" asks the announcer in the 30-second commercial that began airing Saturday morning.

"It's not a college campus. It's not a big city. It's here - the state Supreme Court. Liberal Democrats control our court and threaten your freedom."

The ad comes from an opposition group, the Tennessee Forum, which began raising money a few weeks ago at the encouragement of Lieutenant Gov. Ron Ramsey. The Blountville Republican wants the three Democratic appointees voted out so that Republicans can take control of the Court.

To make the case that Tennesseans should vote out the three justices in August, the Tennessee Forum ad claims "they advanced Obamacare in Tennessee."

It's a claim that a campaign spokesperson called "absolutely false."

"They don't have anything to do with the implementation of, or the passage of, or the advancement of, or anything else to do with Obamacare," said Carol Andrews. "It does not come before their court and won't come before their court."

The Supreme Court did appoint Attorney General Bob Cooper back in 2006 - and Cooper has refused to file lawsuits against the president's health plan.

But the Court was not involved in that decision.

"The liberal Supreme Court chose Bob Cooper to be AG and he refused to defend Tennesseans against Obamacare," said Tennessee Forum head Susan Kaestner in a statement released through a spokesperson.

Kaestner did not say how the justices had "advanced" Obamacare.

The Tennessee Forum statement also claimed the Chief Justice Gary Wade had told a Kingsport newspaper that Cooper's decision not to sue was "the right decision for the taxpayer."

In fact, the quote attributed to Wade actually said that it "may have been the right decision" from a taxpayer perspective since so many other states and attorneys were already suing over Obamacare.

"May have been" was left out of the Tennessee Forum news release, as was a quote from Wade that Cooper's decision "was perhaps a bad political decision."

Former Justice Bill Koch, who served as legal counsel to Republican Gov. Lamar Alexander, denounced the ad in a statement released by the campaign for the justices.

“The smear tactics being used by the special interest groups to attack three of my former colleagues wrongly undermines Tennesseans’ confidence in their state courts," Koch said.

"I have served with these three judges. While we have not agreed on every issue, they have done their work professionally and competently. This is the same conclusion reached by the members of the evaluation commission who were appointed by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell.”

That Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission recommended that all three should be retained.

The new ad can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/101180923

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Phil Williams is chief investigative reporter for NewsChannel 5's nationally award-winning investigative team. His investigations have earned him journalism's highest honors.