Hagan sues Dole for defamation over ‘Godless’ ad

RALEIGH — State Sen. Kay Hagan has sued her rival in the U.S. Senate campaign, claiming Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole defamed her with a campaign television commercial that implies the Democrat would support a “Godless” agenda.

“We said from the very beginning this was a very serious matter,” said Hagan spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan. “Kay takes the defense of her faith and her public image very seriously.”

The lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court, and Hagan’s campaign provided copies to reporters Thursday night.

The ad in question links Hagan to the Godless Americans PAC, a group that advocates for removing references to God from the Pledge of Allegiance and other areas of public life.

Dole’s claim is based on a fundraiser Hagan attended in Boston that was organized by the Democratic fundraising group, ActBlue. Although Godless Americans PAC was not a sponsor, the event was held at the home of one of the PAC’s founders.

Hagan is a Sunday school teacher and elder at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. She says the implication that she would back an atheist agenda is “personal slander. ... This is politics of the worse kind.”

A key line from Dole’s ad suggests Hagan may have made promises to the Godless Americans PAC in exchange for help with fundraising.

Dole said Wednesday she would not take the ad off the air, and a spokesman said Thursday the campaign stood behind the ad.

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