May 10, 2014–San Diego, CA—BREAKING NEWS San Diego County Superior Court Seat 20 challenger Carla Keehn’s election campaign billboards were taken down by Clear Channel Communications only two days after Clear Channel erected the four billboard ads. Keehn reports that Clear Channel advised her they “received pressure to take the billboards down and they would not tell me from whom the pressure came.” Keehn is running against incumbent Judge Lisa Schall, who has a history of three past admonishments for judicial misconduct and was convicted of drunk driving in 2008. Keehn’s campaign supporters Tom Homann Law Association received similar “pressure” to withdraw their endorsement of Keehn earlier this year. All four of Keehn’s billboards across the county were removed early Friday morning after they had been up for only two days.
Keehn’s campaign reports she reserved the billboards at the end of 2013, paid for them in April of this year, and submitted the artwork at that time. The Clear Channel Account Executive reviewed and approved the message and even made suggestions to improve its street appeal. She had no objections to the “The only candidate for this office who has not been convicted of a crime” message.
The billboards went up on Wednesday morning, and on Friday the Keehn campaign received an email from Clear Channel with photos of the board and the message: “Photos for you! These look good 🙂 ”
But by around 11:00 Friday the “looks good :)” message changed to “We have a problem.”
“We got a call saying that the billboards had to come down as Clear Channel was receiving “pressure.”” says a Keehn campaign volunteer. At first Clear Channel indicated the boards “would probably stay up for the weekend so you will get the weekend exposure.” Later in the day the message changed again. “We were told they were coming down ASAP.” By 3:00 Friday they were gone.
Keehn indicates she will be taking immediate action to get to the bottom of who is responsible for the removal of her billboards, and is contemplating further legal action. This race is already unusually competitive for the normally sleepy June primary, which is the “final” election date for judges. Schall’s track record of discipline and criminal record have made her a vulnerable incumbent in a tide of anti-incumbent sentiment. Some believe Schall or her supporters have gone too far.
“This race has erupted into unusual controversy on several occasions. Whoever is behind the billboard removal is facing some serious potential legal fallout–even prison. Election manipulation is a federal crime. I wouldn’t want to be the person behind the campaign ad take-down. They could find themselves in front of a federal Grand Jury for manipulating elections and violating Ms. Keehn’s First Amendment rights as a citizen and election candidate. She’s also a federal officer. Ms. Keehn is not the person local county judges should be playing schoolyard bully toward.” says Weightier Matter Editor-In-Chief, Colbern Stuart.
How voters will react to what looks to be clear criminal activity by persons affiliated with Schall remains to be seen. “Makes you ask yourself–do we really want the kind of people that would pressure a media company to pull four campaign billboards down in the dark of night to be running our county courts and protecting citizen rights?” says Stuart. “This is kind of scary.”
Weightier Matter will continue to update this developing story and election race.