Wellstone responds to Coleman legal challenge

DBy Andrew Pritchard and Libby George

democratic U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone’s lawyers responded Thursday to a legal challenge made by Republican Norm Coleman’s Senate campaign Tuesday.

Coleman’s campaign asked 10 county attorneys to prosecute the Wellstone campaign under the Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act for allegedly misquoting Coleman in Social Security ads, according to a statement posted on the campaign’s Web site.

“Wellstone has brazenly disregarded both the truth and the law,” Coleman campaign manager Ben Whitney said in the statement. “Wellstone must immediately stop the preparation and dissemination of false campaign materials, including his latest Social Security attack ad.”

Wellstone lawyers sent a letter to the county attorneys, defending the ad as accurate and arguing that “dueling advertisements by the two authorized and well-funded campaign committees” would allow voters to decide the issue.

Wellstone campaign spokesman Jim Farrell said Coleman also filed a lawsuit against Democrat Hubert Humphrey III in the 1998 gubernatorial race but dropped it after the election.

“He’s attempting censorship with the legal suit,” Farrell said. “Our ad only puts up his word. He’s trying to stop the truth from getting out.”