Obama warns against ‘unauthorized use’ of his image to mislead voters in cease-and-desist letter
The law firm representing former President Obama on Wednesday sent a cease-and-desist letter to a Republican super PAC demanding that the political group immediately pull a TV ad that has been airing in South Carolina.
The ad — which was created by the Committee to Defend the President, a political group committed to seeing President Trump get reelected in November — goes after former Vice President Joe Biden by taking Obama’s words out of context.
Titled “Enough Empty Promises,” the ad starts by saying “Joe Biden promised to help our community. It was a lie. Here’s President Obama.”
The ad then uses excerpts from Obama’s 1995 memoir “Dreams from My Father,” taking out of context a conversation that Obama had with a barber in Chicago about the brutal and cruel treatment the black community had endured.
“Plantation politics. Black people in the worst jobs. The worst housing. Police brutality rampant. But when the so-called Black committeemen came around election time, we’d all line up and vote the straight Democratic ticket. Sell our souls for a Christmas turkey,” Obama reads in the audiobook recording.
The letter says the ad’s “unauthorized use” of Obama’s “name, image, likeness, voice and book passage is clearly intended to mislead the target audience of the ad into believing that the passage from the audiobook is a statement that was made by President Obama during his presidency, when it was in fact a statement made by a barber in a completely different context more than 20 years ago.”
In a statement to The Washington Post, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates called the ad a “despicable torrent of misinformation.”
Obama spokeswoman Katie Hill said the ad came from the “Republican disinformation playbook.”
In response, Ted Harvey, chairman of the Committee to Defend the President, told CNN: “The Committee has a long history of taking on Joe Biden, beyond Nevada and South Carolina. President Obama made a point in his book about Democrats paying lip-service to the African-American community, and we believe his point applies perfectly to Joe Biden.”
Nonetheless, the letter concludes with Obama’s legal team firmly stating that the group “must immediately remove this ad from its Facebook page and any other social media platform or website, and must refrain from airing this ad in any form or medium in the future.”
“Further, The Committee to Defend the President must agree on behalf of itself and all affiliated entities to refrain from future misuse of President Obama‘s intellectual property or right of publicity,” the letter stated.
Read the full letter below.