An administrative law judge has dismissed a complaint in which the DFL Party claimed that the sponsors of two ads critical of Senate candidate Al Franken were making false statements about a federal bill to organize unions.
In a ruling released Tuesday, Judge Barbara Neilson wrote that while it "may be misleading" for the ads to say that Franken opposes secret ballots in union elections because he supports the Employee Free Choice Act, it's "an unfavorable deduction" rather than "factually false."
The federal legislation offers unions the option of being certified upon receipt of signed cards from a majority of workers, in addition to the standard method of a secret ballot once 30 percent of workers petition for it.
DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez filed complaints on Aug. 1 against the groups behind newspaper and TV ads that hammered Franken for supporting the bill and suggested that he was undemocratic to do so.
DFL officials had no comment Tuesday on the ruling.
J. Justin Wilson, a native Minnesotan who runs the Washington-based Employee Freedom Action Committee, reissued his invitation to Melendez to debate the issue.
"When you examine the bill in the context of how the labor movement works, it is patently clear there won't be any secret ballots if it passes," Wilson said Tuesday.
The Employee Freedom Action Committee, which is affiliated with print ad sponsor Minnesotans for Employee Freedom, is run by Richard Berman, a longtime restaurant industry lobbyist and attorney. The other respondent in the complaint was the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which produced a TV ad.