Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack is defending a supporter’s right to speak out against a large-scale hog operation. The law firm republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Gross runs has sent Rebecca Cole of Jewell a letter, demanding an apology for her appearance in a Vilsack ad that criticizes Gross for doing legal work for Iowa Select Farms. Vilsack says Cole feels strongly about her family and community and felt strongly enough that she wanted to speak out.Vilsack says no American should have to apologize for speaking their mind. Cole was part of a lawsuit against Iowa Select Farms that’s been settled out of court, but Vilsack doubts there’s any “confidentiality agreement” which would prevent Cole from speaking her views about a political candidate. Vilsack, who is also a lawyer, says the confidentiality agreements are a routine tool in settlements, but are designed to protect the terms of the settlement.Cole and 34 of her neighbors sued Iowa Select Farms in 1995, alleging their hog operation was a nuisance. Gross’ law firm handled the case, and settled out of court with the group. Eric Woolson, a spokesman for Gross, says the threatening letter Gross’ law firm sent to Cole has nothing to do with the campaign. Woolson says the governor knows that attorneys represent their clients and it’s a private legal matter.
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