SIOUX FALLS — Following a strident Republican denunciation of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Weiland and Every Voice Action's attack ad against Republican front-runner Mike Rounds Wednesday, EVA pulled its ad off South Dakota airwaves that afternoon.

The South Dakota Republican Party said it would sue five South Dakota commercial televisions stations running a spot by Every Voice Action in support of Weiland because they claimed it was defamatory.

State Republican chairman Craig Lawrence made the announcement Wednesday morning in a news conference, where he also denounced Weiland for not repudiating the third party advertisements by EVA and Mayday PAC.

In a letter drafted by attorney William Taylor addressed Tuesday to the station managers at KELO-TV, KDLT-TV and KSFY-TV in Sioux Falls and KEVN-TV and KOTA-TV in Rapid City, Taylor demanded that the stations stop playing the EVA ad, calling it “a defamatory statement made with actual malice.”

The Republican Party, through its attorney, took issue with the statement in the ad, “Mike Rounds gave his friend a no-bid contract to auction off EB-5 green cards to the highest bidder.” Taylor wrote the EB-5 program “was never an auction.”

The letter, hand delivered to the Sioux Falls stations and sent via certified mail and fax to the Rapid City stations, threatened legal action “within 24 hours of receipt of this letter.”

Lawrence said the party would consider requesting injunctive relief to stop the stations from playing the ad if they didn’t voluntarily cease playing it or file actions against them and EVA in the Federal Election Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

Lawrence called EVA “cowards” who were “defaming Mike Rounds without a shred of evidence linking him to wrongdoing.” He also accused Weiland of hypocrisy, running on a platform against “big money” then condoning assistance from the two independent third party organizations that have bought ads touting him and attacking Rounds.