Starbucks and Seattle Times send ‘cease and desist’ letters to Republican for ad hitting too close to home

It appears that Starbucks and the Seattle Times have their knickers in a twist over Washington Republican Tiffany Smiley running an anti-crime campaign ad against Patty Murray in a heated Senate seat race, resorting to petulant cease and desist letters.

The polls have tightened in the race and Smiley is looking more and more like she will take a win in the race. She’s a trained triage nurse and fought the VA and the Pentagon after her husband was blinded while serving in Iraq. The woman is a fighter, articulate, and smart as a whip… all necessary ingredients when delving into politics. In fact, she shines while Murray comes across as drab.

Smiley really hit a sore spot in the contest when she ran a campaign ad showing her standing in front of a graffitied, abandoned building that at one time was a Starbucks. The ad shreds Murray’s “reckless policies” on crime and points out that she has been in the Senate for 30 years, with nothing but crime and squalor to show for it. The ad features overlays of Seattle Times headlines on crime.

“You can’t even get a cup of coffee from a hometown shop on Capitol Hill,” Smiley factually states in the ad, pointing at the abandoned, boarded-up building with graffiti all over it. The ad definitely left a mark.

The Seattle Times was not amused or impressed and sent a cease and desist letter to someone named “Jane Smiley.” The company’s attorney couldn’t even get her name right. The leftist media outlet accused Smiley of using copyrighted material without permission.

It is a specious argument. Since Smiley is quoting the Seattle Times, she should not need permission to use it in an ad. The Times logo and banner are included because she was giving attribution to where the quotes came from. Bonus, it’s a political ad and therefore it is fair game to use the headlines since they are in the public forum.

Smiley’s campaign team told the Times to take a hike and rightly so. Their attorney pointed out that if the Times considers the contents of the ad an unauthorized use then Murray using the same or similar banners and copyrighted material in her ads in her 2016 re-election campaign should be objected to as well. They didn’t since the Times endorsed Murray.

“If a corporation makes its resources available for free, it must do so for all candidates,” a complaint by Smiley stated, referring to “fair use” and freedom of political speech.

A press release from the Smiley campaign stated, “Since corporate resources were used for arbitrary enforcement of its copyright claims, The Seattle Times clearly violated federal election law by providing a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution to Patty Murray’s campaign.”

The statement also contended that “fair use is intended to protect and promote freedom of expression, which … allows The Seattle Times to publish extreme leftist commentary and pretend that it is news” and while their “political affiliation may not align with Tiffany Smiley’s,” the legal claims made have “no merit.”

Starbucks also sent a cease and desist letter to Smiley at the very same time the leftist media outlet did. Their argument is even sillier since you can’t see their name on the building and it is on public record that there was a Starbucks there at one time.

The company claimed that Smiley appropriated its intellectual property and complained the ad might “create an unfounded association in the minds of consumers between Starbucks and your campaign.”

The lame letters whiff of desperation as Washington Democrats realize that a Republican may, in fact, take the Senate seat for that state. Pushing the false claim that if Republicans take back the Senate in the 2022 midterms they “plan to end Social Security and Medicare,” isn’t cutting it any longer with voters either.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer seems to be terrified of a Smiley win. He recently transferred $500,000 from his own campaign funds to Murray’s campaign.

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