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Candidates for public office in Ohio can lie and get away with it under a recent federal court ruling that struck down a state law banning false statements in campaigns, an attorney says.

Attorney Donald Brey, who has represented Republicans in cases before the Ohio Elections Commission, told The Columbus Dispatch his clients mostly tell the truth, but can legally lie as long as they don't defame anyone.

In past elections, the commission ruled on false-advertising complaints. That changed when the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals a few weeks ago upheld the 2014 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black that found the law violated the First Amendment. The Dispatch reports no further appeal is expected.

Black wrote that "lies are bad," but with some political speech, "there is no clear way to determine whether a political statement is a lie or the truth, and we certainly do not want the government deciding what is political truth."

Phil Richter, executive director of the state Elections Commission, said he has had to turn away calls from candidates alleging false-advertising claims.


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