AdWatch Democrats release ad about AG hopeful Schuette

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The Michigan Democratic Party is taking aim at Republican attorney general candidate Bill Schuette with an ad accusing him of siding with insurance companies while he was a state Court of Appeals judge.

The ad released Tuesday features Maxine Hoover, whose 2-year-old son Michael was struck by a drunken driver in 1985 and left a quadriplegic.

She says Schuette "showed no justice" to her son.

Schuette was part of a three-judge panel that heard the case. He said the family should get less than what the other judges decided.

Schuette spokesman Rusty Hills says the ad twists and distorts the facts in a heart-wrenching case. He says Schuette was following the law.

The ad doesn't mention Schuette's Democratic opponent David Leyton.

TITLE: "Before"

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: Broadcast and cable stations statewide.

PAID FOR BY: Michigan Democratic State Central Committee.

SCRIPT: Maxine Hoover: "This is my son Michael before the accident.

"All we wanted from the insurance companies was for them to help pay for my son Michael's care. But when Michael's case came up in front of Judge Schuette, he sided with the insurance companies and actually ruled to cut my son Michael's benefits.

"We only found out after the case that Schuette had taken money from the same insurance company we were fighting.

"He showed no justice to my son Michael. I don't know how Michigan families can expect justice from Bill Schuette."

KEY IMAGES: The ad opens with an image of Maxine Hoover pointing to a photo of her son as a child. Then it cuts her son in a hospital bed, with the words "A drunk driver struck Michael Hoover leaving him a quadriplegic."

The ad then shows Maxine Hoover sitting by her son in the hospital bed.

As the ad shows more images of Maxine Hoover, the words "Bill Schuette has taken thousands from the insurance industry including the company that denied Michael's care."

It closes with Maxine Hoover speaking to the camera.

ANALYSIS: The ad highlights a case involving Michael Hoover, who was 2 years old when he was struck by a drunken driver in 1985. He was 25 years old at the time the case went before the Michigan Court of Appeals. The accident left him disabled from a brain injury, quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator to breathe.

Bill Schuette, who is the Republican nominee for Michigan attorney general, was part of a three-judge panel that heard the case.

The court in 2008 decided that a lower court didn't properly calculate how much an insurance company should pay for Michael Hoover's housing and living expenses, and ordered the case sent back to determine a reduced amount. The case was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, but a settlement was reached before that court ruled.

Schuette wrote an opinion in the case that agreed in part and disagreed in part with the other judges. He agreed that the expenses were improperly calculated, but also said that the family should get less than what the other judges decided.

The ad uses the case to try to paint Schuette as someone who will side with insurance companies like the one involved in the case. Schuette's campaign says it was an example of a case where a judge had to follow the law despite the heart-wrenching circumstances.

The ad also suggests that Schuette's decision may have been influenced by a campaign contribution. The ad offers no details. His campaign acknowledges that in 2002 he received a $200 contribution from a person affiliated with an insurance company involved in the case, but is adamant that has no relation to the decision.

The ad doesn't mention that Schuette is running for attorney general, nor does it name Schuette's Democratic opponent David Leyton. Its goal is not to promote Leyton but to paint Schuette one as someone voters won't want to choose.

Published: Thu, Oct 28, 2010