Barr, Hicks spar over truth in campaign ad

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ)  — Campaign ads are meant to sway voters and ruffle the opponent’s feathers.

But an ad this week has gone a step further, prompting one candidate to demand his opponent take down a TV commercial. In response, the other candidate stands by the commercial

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In a statement late Monday afternoon, Democrat Josh Hicks said incumbent Republican Andy Barr’s latest commercial “grossly misrepresents Hicks’s legal work to falsely imply he is working against COVID relief efforts.

The two men face each other on the Nov. 3 ballot for Barr’s 6th District congressional seat.

According to Hicks, the ad cites two legal cases that have nothing to do with COVID-19.

Instead, Hicks said it was Barr’s attempt to protect the pharmaceutical industry which has donated to Barr’s campaigns.

Barr’s office countered Hicks is preying on the medical community as a lawyer.

“Today, with record numbers of Kentuckians without jobs or health insurance, Barr’s commercial crosses a line,” Hicks said in asking the commercial be taken down.

“Andy has now taken the lies and distortion to the next level, and he’s crossed a line. As an attorney, I fight for my clients, holding corporations accountable. Andy’s latest ad implies that I am working against COVID relief efforts. I have done no such thing, and the cases he cites started in 2019 and have nothing to do with COVID. In the middle of a pandemic that has caused the deaths of 200,000 Americans, I would have hoped that Andy would hold himself to a higher standard for truth and transparency in his campaign commercials,” Hicks said in his statement.

“Andy’s commercial is part and parcel of a failed federal response to this virus — one where basic facts and science take a backseat to politics. When I’m in Congress, you can bet I’ll be fighting for regular folks, and I won’t lie to my constituents,” Hicks continued.

Barr’s ad, released this weekend, claims “trial lawyer Josh Hicks is looking to make a quick buck, suing hospitals who are treating COVID patients.”

According to Hicks and court records, the case cited was over a civil rights violation by a hospital. Hicks said:

  • Hicks’s law firm, Hicks & Funfsinn PLLC, represented a deaf woman whose hospital failed to provide her adequate communication access during her C-section pregnancy.
  • The plaintiff’s rights were violated under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • A complaint was filed in May 2019, well before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
  • The case had nothing to do with COVID-19.

Barr’s ad also states that “Hicks even filed a lawsuit against a company developing a vaccine for COVID-19.” According to Hicks, the case cited also had nothing to do with COVID-19, butt sought sued Johnson & Johnson for an alleged defective medical equipment. Hicks said:

  • Hicks’s law firm represented a woman who was injured during surgery due to defective equipment issued by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.
  • During surgery, a medical stapler produced by Johnson & Johnson misfired, damaging the woman’s stomach.
  • Again, the suit referenced was filed in 2019 and had nothing to do with COVID.

Hicks, a Marine veteran, former police officer, and lawyer, noted Johnson & Johnson, “has flooded our community with opioids” and was ordered last year to pay $572 million in penalties in a trial that charged a drug company with causing the opioid crisis.

Barr’s campaign responded by going after Hicks’ profession.

“Our well-researched, fact-checked, and accurate ad upsets Josh Hicks because we informed voters that he makes his living suing doctors, hospitals, and health care providers,” Barr’s Campaign Manager Brett Wakeman said.

“Just look at his office doors which he opened in the middle of the pandemic, where they say they take ‘Slip and Fall’ and ‘Medical Malpractice’ cases. Lawsuits tie-down doctors, hospitals, and health care providers, especially during a pandemic,” Wakeman said, citing Barr’s support for a number of coronavirus-related relief measures approved in April and May and efforts to get medical supplies and funding for hospitals and health care professionals.

“Josh Hicks opened two new law offices on May 1st and August 12th, 2020, that advertised medical malpractice in their windows. He was trying to make a quick buck in medical malpractice in the middle of the pandemic. End of story,” Wakeman concluded.