Ohio Election Panel Unanimously Throws Out Dems' Complaint Against FNC

Ohio election officials have unanimously dismissed a complaint by the Democratic Governors Association, alleging that the Fox News Channel made an illegal in-kind contribution of nearly $170,000 to then-gubernatorial candidate Republican John Kasich.

The DGA had alleged that the 90 seconds Kasich's campaign web address appeared at the bottom of the screen during an interview on Fox amounted to a political advertisement. The Ohio Elections Commission ruled 5-0 that it did not.

Fox News's legal counsel said the DGA's complaint ran counter to "the whole concept of press coverage."

The Columbus Dispatch reported Friday:

Kasich, who narrowly defeated Gov. Ted Strickland in the Nov. 2 election, also said "send me your nickels and pennies" while the Web address was on the screen and later said publicly that the appearance helped him raise $21,000, according to the DGA.

But lawyer Larry Noble, a former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission who represented Fox News and appeared at the commission hearing yesterday, said nothing improper happened.

Noble said that as a media entity, Fox has a First Amendment right to interview Kasich and even endorse him, and that running the website is a standard way to identify candidates.

"To call this a political contribution would run afoul of the media exemption, the whole concept of press coverage," Noble told the commission.

The DGA did not have a representative at the hearing, and Philip C. Richter, executive director of the elections commission, recommended that the complaint be dismissed.

Democrats have complained that Kasich, an on-air personality for Fox from 2002 to 2008, unfairly benefited from the 16 times he appeared on Fox television or radio programs since he announced his bid for governor in June 2009.

The far-left Fox-haters howled about the DGA's allegations regarding Kasich, who was elected and will be seated in January. Of course none of them were bothered by near-identical practices on MSNBC.

(Hat tip: J$)