The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a state senator’s appeal of his defamation lawsuit against his 2010 opponent and the Iowa Democratic Party.
Republican State Senator Rick Bertrand of Sioux City sued over a 2010 campaign ad that talked about a “dangerous sleep drug” sold by the pharmacuetical company Bertrand used to work for. In 2012 a jury agreed the ad suggested Bertrand sold the drug himself and awarded him $231,000 in damages.
The Iowa Supreme Court later overturned the lower court’s verdict, saying the ad didn’t rise to the level of “actual malice.” The ruling from the state’s highest court noted the “rough and tumble, Wild West approach to negative commercials,” but stressed that free speech standards must also be protected. Bertrand appealed that ruling to the nation’s highest court, but the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the case.
Bertrand, who won a first term in the Iowa Senate in 2010, is seeking reelection to the state senate this year.