Iowa Democratic Party loses libel lawsuit


November 4th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) – A man has been awarded $50,000 in winning his libel suit against the Iowa Democratic Party.  The Pottawattamie County jury ruled for Randy Higginbotham on Wednesday. He’d sued the state party over a campaign pamphlet mailed during a 2008 Iowa House seat race between Democratic incumbent Paul Shomshor and Republican challenger Scott Belt.

Higginbotham’s attorney, Mark Rater, says the pamphlet mentioned that Belt, in 1994, had bailed Higginbotham out of jail. The pamphlet said Higginbotham was a convicted sex offender. Rater says Higginbotham had been charged but had never been convicted “of any sexual-related offense.”

Party executive director Norm Sterzenback says the party had relied on an independent firm for the research, which proved to be inaccurate about Higginbotham’s court record.