The Michigan Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling by an Oakland County Circuit Court judge to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by former GOP Congressional candidate Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski against U.S. Rep. Gary Peters (D-Orchard Lake, Waterford, West Bloomfield) over a TV ad that aired during the pair’s heated 2010 battle for the 9th U.S. House of Representatives District seat.
Circuit Court Judge Phyllis McMillen granted summary disposition in favor of the defendants, Peters and Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, on Jan. 26, 2011, and the Court of Appeals ruling against Raczkowski, the former CEO of Star Tickets, was issued on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
“Rocky Raczkowski is being sued by his former business partners for theft, fraud and conspiracy,” a man says in a voiceover in the TV ad. “The case court documents say Rocky set up a concert ticket scheme that bilked his partners out of $6 million, and witnesses say Rocky lied about evidence and destroyed documents to cover it up.”
Raczkowski claimed that the ad misrepresented the lawsuit because the individuals referenced were not “business partners,” but rather “customers” of the South Dakota-based Star Tickets, and that the “defendants made the false and defamatory statements in an attempt to mislead and defraud the voters in the 9th Congressional District and to gain an advantage in a congressional race that defendant Peters was losing.”
“The sting or gist of the ad was that plaintiff (Raczkowski) had been sued for defrauding people and companies, with whom he had entered into a contract, out of millions of dollars,” the Court of Appeals ruling reads. “That is an accurate portrayal of the allegations contained in the South Dakota lawsuit. The question of whether the entities who sued the plaintiff were his business partners, his customers, or just companies with whom he had entered into a contractual relationship — like the question whether he bilked or defrauded them — did not affect the ad’s substantial truth.”
Peters healthily won a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 6 against Republican John Hauler to represent the new 14th Congressional District, which represents Orchard Lake and a portion of West Bloomfield Township in the lakes area. Peters survived a crowded Democratic primary election that included U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke to win his party’s nomination on Aug. 7.
In the closely-watched 2010 race between Peters and Raczkowski, the Bloomfield Township Democrat eked out a 6,000-vote margin of victory to earn another two-year term in the U.S. House that pays $174,000 per year.