How they roll, Iowa edition

The Washington Free Beacon’s Alana Goodman has an excellent account of the Democrats’ successful suppression of a story that might negatively have affected the Braley campaign in Iowa. The story is headlined “Braley donor threatens lawsuit against National Review, Des Moines Register.” This is how they roll:

A law firm aligned with Iowa Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Bruce Braley has threatened legal action against media outlets investigating a man featured in one of Braley’s campaign ads, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The Des Moines Register and National Review were contacted by top Braley donor and personal injury lawyer John Riccolo last month while looking into allegations involving Iowa college administrator Jesse James.

James, who became an advocate against domestic violence after his daughter Holley was killed by her husband in 2008, was featured in an August campaign ad for Braley about domestic abuse legislation the congressman sponsored.

Riccolo, a partner at the Iowa personal injury law firm Riccolo, Semelroth and Henningsen, identified himself as an attorney for James in letters to news outlets several weeks after the commercial aired.

“I hereby demand that you do not publish the story, and in the event that you do so, please be advised that Mr. James will file suit for defamation against the National Review and anyone associated with the preparation and/or dissemination of this defamatory information,” wrote Riccolo in a letter to National Review editor Rich Lowry on October 21.

He said he had threatened legal action against the Des Moines Register when that paper made inquiries about allegations made by James’s ex-wife and stepdaughter. The Free Beacon is declining to repeat the allegations because of their legal sensitivity.

Riccolo contributed more than $13,500 to Braley between 2005 and 2012.

Riccolo’s partners Tim Semelroth and Pressley Henningsen have contributed $17,550 and $8,700, respectively, to Braley since 2005.

Semelroth and Henningsen also co-hosted a fundraiser for Braley in Cedar Rapids last March.

In 2012, Riccolo served as president of the Iowa Civil Justice Foundation, which ran a scholarship created by Braley. Semelroth and Henningsen served as directors.

Their law firm focuses on personal injury litigation, specializing in car accidents and medical malpractice.

Riccolo did not respond to requests for comment from the Washington Free Beacon.

It could not be learned how the prominent trial lawyer came to represent James and whether he is being compensated and if so who is paying him.

The relation between attorneys and candidates is a tricky one, campaign finance experts told the Free Beacon. Legal representation potentially falls under the definition of in-kind contributions to campaign.

The Braley campaign did not respond to request for comment.

It would probably be wise to draw adverse inferences from those who chose not to respond to Goodman’s inquiries. So draw the inferences, connect the dots and read the whole thing here.


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