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Political candidate steals copyrighted puppy pic for campaign ad

If there’s one thing Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli hates more than sodomy, it’s intellectual property law. 


EJ Dickson


Posted on Oct 25, 2013   Updated on Jun 1, 2021, 3:22 am CDT

If there’s one thing Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli hates more than sodomy, it’s intellectual property law. 

The state attorney general, who made headlines last June for asking the Supreme Court to uphold Virginia’s archaic anti-sodomy law, has landed in hot water for using an unauthorized, copyrighted photo of a pug in a campaign ad against his opponent, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

The ad, posted on Cuccinelli’s Facebook page last night, shows a mournful-looking pug puppy with a collar around his neck that says “Virginia,” accompanied by the words “Terry McAuliffe: All puppy, no plan.” 

Photo via Ken Cuccinelli/Facebook (via Christopher Michel/Flickr)

The quote-unquote “slogan” (which, next to the 1905 Tariff Reform League’s, is probably the least catchy in political history) refers to a joke Cuccinelli made at the gubernatorial debate on Thursday, which took aim at McAuliffe’s unfocused economic policy. “I like puppies. But I don’t bring a puppy home if I don’t have a plan to take care of that puppy,” said the Cooch, adding, “[McAuliffe] is all puppy, no plans.”

Unsurprisingly, Cuccinelli’s puppy remark—and his PR team’s subsequent attempt to turn it into a thing—drew mockery on Twitter last night. Many were simply baffled by the slogan, and some took the opportunity to draw attention to the Cooch’s not-so-stellar record on animal rights. The response from digital communications expert Greg Greene, however, took the cake (bone?):

.@KenCuccinelli Nice of yr team to use that copyrighted photo w/o attribution, Mr. Attorney General. cc: @just_jenna

— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) October 25, 2013

.@KenCuccinelli Also, @luluthepug would prefer that you keep her friends the heck out of this. #VAGov

— Greg Greene (@ggreeneva) October 25, 2013

@ggreeneva @KenCuccinelli and covered up the copyright notice with a link to Facebook! That’s ballsy.

— Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj) October 25, 2013

.@KenCuccinelli Its tough to make any ad featuring a puppy nauseating, but you managed it. Nice job.

— Shawn Huckaby (@ShawnHuckaby) October 25, 2013

It turns out that the photo is from Flickr user Christopher Michel, a San Francisco–based entrepreneur and photographer whose pug, Mr. Newman, appears in his series “World’s Saddest Dog.” Michel commented on Cuccinelli’s usage of the photo on his Facebook page last night:

Photo via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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*First Published: Oct 25, 2013, 2:07 pm CDT