Louisiana is suing the progressive group MoveOn.org for a billboard criticizing Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal for not accepting federal funds to expand Medicaid through Obamacare.
The state is suing MoveOn.org for its use of the Louisiana tourism logo and tagline for the critical billboard, alleging that the group’s parody and criticism is causing “irreparable harm, injury, and damages” to the state’s culture tourism office. They sent a cease-and-desist letter last week, warning of the impending lawsuit.
"We have invested millions of dollars in identifying the Louisiana: Pick Your Passion brand with all that is good about Louisiana,” Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said in a release announcing the lawsuit, according to the Times Picayune. Dardenne, a candidate for governor next year, runs the state’s culture tourism office. “No group should be allowed to use the brand for its own purposes, especially if it is for partisan political posturing.”
The billboard reads, "LOU!SIANA Pick your passion! But hope you don't love your health. Gov. Jindal's denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.”
Jindal declined federal funds offered through Obamacare to expand Medicaid this year, saying he believed the health care law to be such a bad law he wouldn't inflict it on the state. The Medicaid expansion would have allowed more than two hundred thousand low-income Louisiana residents to enroll in health care.
"MoveOn.org has every right to attack Gov. Jindal, the state's refusal to accept Medicaid or, for that matter, me personally. But they do not have the right to use our protected service mark, which is used solely for the purpose of promoting and marketing Louisiana,” Dardenne said. “We own the mark and its use is under the direction of my office, not the Office of the Governor."
MoveOn.org fired back at the state for spending on what they call a "frivolous lawsuit."
“It is very sad to see the state spend taxpayer money on a frivolous lawsuit instead of providing health care to the people of Louisiana,” the group’s Civic Action's Executive Direct Anna Galland told the Times Picayune, noting that they hadn’t received the lawsuit, but had read the news reports detailing the suit.
But MoveOn.org isn't budging. In a statement issued Sunday, the group firmly siad that, "After carefully discussing the matter with our lawyers, we've made a decision: We're leaving our billboard up—even if we have to take this fight all the way to the Supreme Court."