Rupert Howell column 10-12-12

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2012

Anonymous TV ads attack integrity of hometown candidate

Changes in election laws have apparently allowed political attack ads to be broadcast without revealing the group or individual responsible.

Local Mississippi Supreme Court Justice candidate Flip Phillips is the most recent target and if anybody who watches television hasn’t seen it, they may not realize the money and influence being put behind keeping Phillips out of office.

One thing we at this newspaper have learned through dealing with comments to our Web site— there is no limit to the venom that will be spewed forth if those posting comments remain anonymous.

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In political campaigns, an attack ad is an advertisement whose message is meant as a personal attack against a candidate and is often part of negative campaigning or smear campaigns, often using innuendo.

Among other things, Phillips is labeled in the ad as a trial lawyer who has earned millions from insurance companies making citizens’ premiums higher. The ads insinuate that he has acquired his assets through frivolous lawsuits.

Why trial lawyers are all villainized is somewhat confounding in that trial lawyers are a necessary cog in the wheels of justice, whether criminal or civil.

We all seem to make light or degrade lawyers until we need one. As in any profession, few are perfect, but that doesn’t mean the whole barrel is tainted.

The accusation that Phillips made millions from insurance companies surely doesn’t clarify that he won millions of dollars for consumers, his clients, who had been misled by big insurance companies into “investing” into vanishing premium life insurance, a practice that was later made illegal.

The ad also doesn’t report that he was successful for clients against one of the nation’s largest corporations who designed and manufactured an automobile with serious engineering problems that led to consumers’ injury and death.

Product liability does not equal frivolous lawsuits or vice versa.

Given Phillips’ record in this community as a judge, father, lawyer, and leader, he is not getting a fair shake with these attack ads. The fact that they are anonymous lets me know the type of people who are against him, and that’s okay because I am against those types of people.

My name is Rupert Howell and I wrote and approved this commentary.