Clear Channel Outdoor has caved to liberal demands to remove billboards in Cleveland and Columbus reading “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Liberal activists in Cleveland began working to remove the billboards – also displayed in Cincinnati and in Milwaukee, Wisconsin – early in October, asserting they were a racist attempt to intimidate minority voters.
Cleveland City Council member Phyllis Cleveland, a Democrat, told the Plain Dealer the billboards could confuse members of her ward with criminal records, leading them to believe they may not be allowed to vote. State Senator Nina Turner, also a Democrat, levied one of her frequent “Jim Crow” charges against the billboards and the anonymous foundation paying for their display.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an organization left of the notoriously liberal American Civil Liberties Union, demanded that Clear Channel Outdoor remove the billboards, claiming they were disproportionately placed in urban neighborhoods in order to target minority voters.
“The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure equal justice for all through the rule of law, targeting in particular the inequities confronting African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities,” the group maintains on its website.
Clear Channel Outdoor initially refused demands to remove the billboards, stating that it had contracted their placement through November 6. On October 4, the Plain Dealer reported that a Clear Channel rep “said the agency does not have anything to do with language on advertisements.”
By October 21, Clear Channel had changed its tune, explaining to the Plain Dealer that the company “has a policy against putting anonymous political messages on its billboard and that it erred in agreeing to that contract.”
Clear Channel Outdoor conferred with the client, who decided to remove the billboards. Prior to that point, the advertising company had already agreed to reward liberals’ complaints with the free use of 10 billboards to display the message pictured below.
Upon announcement of the billboards’ removal, union campaign arm We Are Ohio cheered the victory of the latest left-wing smear campaign, writing on its Facebook page that “we have been winning battle after battle so people can vote without being intimidated.”
Charlie Sykes, a conservative Milwaukee-area talk radio host, has been in contact with the private foundation which purchased the anti-fraud billboards. Sykes reported that the family “called me to say that Clear Channel was buckling under enormous political pressure from the left and had presented him with an ultimatum: either disclose his family’s identity or have the billboards removed.”
“Our children expressed grave concerns for their own safety, and we had to respect that above all,” the family told Sykes.
Councilwoman Cleveland told the Plain Dealer that the left’s coordinated smear of an anti-fraud campaign as racism was “a great example of free speech in action” and “a wonderful resolution to this issue.”
In a press release, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law quoted Catherine Turcer – of Ohio Common Cause and union front Voters First Ohio – who said, “”This is an undeniable victory for those of us who care about protecting the right to vote.”
Suggesting liberal attacks against the billboards will continue in Cincinnati, Turcer added, “Now it’s time for Norton Outdoor to follow Clear Channel’s lead and take down the anonymously funded billboards as well.”