Candidate Can’t Interrupt ‘Brooklyn DA’ Show

     MANHATTAN (CN) – CBS premiered a new program, “Brooklyn DA,” this week after a New York judge found that campaign-finance laws could not stand in its way.
     Abe George, who is one of the two Democratic challengers to Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes in an upcoming primary election, had filed suit earlier this month to block the May 28 upcoming premiere.
     He said CBS first marketed the show as “entertainment” before it called it a news documentary to skirt election laws entitling other candidates to equal time.
     George insisted that the show is worth “well in excess of $5,000” to Hynes and his campaign, which is the cap on campaign contributions in New York.
     “Without an order enjoining the broadcast of ‘Brooklyn D.A.’ until after the general election, the show will result in a corrupt electoral process, both real and apparent, and irreparable harm to plaintiffs,” the complaint states.
     George also highlighted “the local climate of recent political scandals in New York involving, among other things, the exchanges of money for favors contributes to the public perception of corruption around the broadcast of ‘Brooklyn D.A.’ in the final months of the election.”
     CBS and Hynes, who has served six terms as the borough’s prosecutor since 1989, fired back, arguing in court documents that George was seeking “to deprive CBS of its First Amendment freedoms for nearly six months” by demanding they delay the airing of the series until after the election.
     “Imposing such a lengthy delay of CBS’s ability to air its documentary series would deal a devastating blow to CBS’s constitutional rights,” CBS said in a motion on May 24.
     CBS demanded a stay of the hearing scheduled for that afternoon, noting that the hearing could well bleed into the May 28 premiere date of the six-part series.
     It said that the network “should not be put to these burdens on an extraordinarily expedited basis when plaintiffs are solely responsible for manufacturing this so-called emergency.”
     George and his campaign committee “waited nearly six weeks before initiating action and now want discovery completed in 18 hours,” the motion stated.
     Judge Paul Wooten reportedly held the hearing Friday and refused to give George an injunction.
     Back when the case was filed, CBS News spokeswoman Sonia McNair called it a free-speech issue.
     “We are surprised that this candidate would not know about the First Amendment,” McNair said. “This is obviously a publicity push by a politician.”
     George used similar language to bash the network.
     “I am surprised CBS News would conspire to violate campaign finance laws,” he reportedly said.
     Another competitor in the Democratic primary, Kenneth Thompson, has also slammed the show.
     “if District Attorney Hynes spent less time worrying about getting on TV and more about doing his job, Brooklyn’s reputation wouldn’t be tarnished by prosecutorial misconduct or the lowest felony conviction rate in the city,” Thompson told Reuters.
     According to the Brooklyn Daily, 38 percent of the murders in New York City occurred in the borough last year. The primary for District Attorney is scheduled for September.

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