Two Houston TV stations Sunday were planning to start airing an ad targeting former Senate Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), according to Campaign for America's Future and the Public Campaign Action Fund.
KPRC (NBC) and KRIV (FOX) had declined to run an earlier ad by the groups after lawyers for DeLay said it was false and intimated they would sue.
According to Toby Chaudhuri, campaign director for Campaign For America's future, the ads were changed to more fully explain several of the allegations of corruption made in the first ads, including one about a $1 million contribution from Russian businessmen to a DeLay-related group, said Chaudhuri.
That allegation was particularly troubling to DeLay's lawyers and to some of the stations contacted by them.
Still undecided about running the new ads at press time, according to Chaudhuri, were KHOU (CBS) and KTRK (ABC). KHOU ran the first ad last week before receiving the letter from DeLay's lawyer, after which it pulled it.
The Anneberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org, which monitors political speech, has said there was nothing false about the spots, though they could be misleading.
FactCheck said of the ads:
"DeLay's primary complaint is that the ad refers to 'one million dollars from Russian tycoons to allegedly influence his vote.' In fact, The Washington Post has reported just such an allegation. It quoted the former president of an advocacy group as saying DeLay's former chief of staff told him that Russians contributed $1 million to the group in 1998 specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation.
"It is true there's no evidence DeLay received the money personally, but it is also true that DeLay had multiple political connections to the advocacy group, and that his wife received a salary from the group's founder.
We find that DeLay's lawyer mischaracterized what the ad said, and that the ad contains nothing that is strictly false.
"The worst we can say of the ad is that its ambiguous wording could give casual viewers the impression that DeLay took $1 million directly, which isn't the case."