Models of State Political Advertising Regulations

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Models of State Political Advertising Regulations Powered By Docstoc
					Models of State Political
Advertising Regulations


 By: Ryan Almquist
Regulations in Texas
          Definition of a political
                   advertisement
   The Texas Ethics Commission
    defines a political advertisement
    as:
    – ―communications supporting or
      opposing a candidate for
      nomination or election to either a
      public office or an office of a
      political party‖
    – Also includes supporting or
      opposing an officeholder, political
      party, or a measure
                               Disclosure Statement
   Law requires all political ads that contain express
    advocacy to have a disclosure statement
   A political ad contains express advocacy if it is
    authorized by:
    – Candidate, agent of candidate, political committee filing
      campaign finance reports
   So…any ad issued by either a candidate, an agent of
    the candidate, or a political committee is required to
    come with a disclosure statement
            Disclosure Statement cont.

A   disclosure statement must include
 – The words ―political advertisement‖ or a
   recognizable abbreviation
 – Either the full name of the person who paid
   for the advertisement or the political
   committee authorizing the advertisement
                                Exceptions

 Disclosurestatements do not need to
 be included on hats, buttons, pins, etc.
 involving political advertising
        Fair Campaign Practices Act
– A voluntary code that a candidate or
  political committee may choose to sign
– Lays out rules of decency and civility that
  candidates and political committees must
  follow during a campaign
– A person who signs the code may use that
  fact on his political ads
                    Restrictions on Content of
                               Advertisements
 Few   rules on content
  – Political ads may not misrepresent a
    person’s:
        – Identity
        – Official title
        – True source of the advertisement
    Restrictions for Non-Incumbents

 Challengers       to the incumbent must:
  – Make it clear they are seeking election, not
    reelection
         – Must use the word ―for‖ immediately before the office
           the non-incumbent is seeking to indicate that he
           does not yet hold that office

 Only incumbents may use the state seal
 in their ads
Regulations in
  Alabama
                               Accountability
 Any    paid political advertisement must
  be identified as a paid ad
 It is illegal for a candidate or committee
  to run a political ad without a notice on
  the front page of a print ad or broadcast
  at the beginning or end of a radio/TV ad
  – Notice must reveal that it is a paid ad and
    give the identification of the person or
    committee responsible for the ad
                Advertising disclaimer

 UnlikeTexas, Alabama requires
 advertising disclaimers be put on
 smaller items such as buttons, pencils,
 and T-shirts
     Failure to comply with advertising
                            regulations
A candidate or political committee that
 does not follow the campaign
 advertising requirements could be found
 guilty of a Class A misdemeanor
 – Those responsible could be fined up to
   $2000 and/or imprisoned for up to a year
      Regulations Involving Content in
                    Ads?
 Easy   for states to regulate fine details in
  the structure of the ads.
 However, it is very difficult for states to
  regulate the content presented in
  political ads
Example in Minnesota
                                    Minnesota

 1994House race Tad Jude vs. William
 Luther
  – In the weekend before the election, Jude, a
    Republican state senator, ran a false ad
    against Luther, a Democratic state senator
                                    Jude’s False Ad
   ―In 1990, a Minnesota woman and her two daughters
    were abducted and repeatedly raped over a two-day
    ordeal. Despite two prior convictions, the perpetrator,
    Daniel Patten, was out of prison on a weekend
    furlough.
    Patten may never have been released and this crime
    never committed had legislation authored by Tad
    Jude been enacted. But Jude's bill was stopped by
    Bill Luther and his liberal friends in the Minnesota
    Senate. Bill Luther's willingness to set violent
    criminals free is putting every woman in Minnesota in
    danger. Sending him to Congress would be a crime.‖
                             Jude’s False Ad
 The truth was that even if Jude’s bill had
  passed, it wouldn’t have applied to Patten,
  the criminal, since he was sentenced 4 years
  before the bill would’ve taken effect
 Minnesota has a law outlawing false political
  advertising, so a special prosecutor
  presented the case before a grand jury
                                        Jude’s False Ad
   The judge later threw the case out
   Minnesota Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the
    indictment because the law was too broad
    – Somebody could be charged for having ―reason to believe‖
      information in their ad was false
   The law doesn’t work because it’s hard to prove that
    Jude knowingly presented false information in his ad
    – Also, prosecutors cannot get indictments soon enough to
      control damage from a false ad (in Jude’s case, he wasn’t
      indicted until almost a year after the ad
    – All a candidate had to do was lie about knowing information
      in his ad was false
Example in Washington
                          Washington State

 1991 ―death with dignity‖ law
 referendum
  – ―119 Vote No! Committee‖ gave out leaflets
    saying the proposal, ―WOULD LET
    DOCTORS END PATIENTS' LIVES
    WITHOUT BENEFIT OF SAFEGUARDS . . .
    No special qualifications-- your eye doctor
    could kill you."
                  Death with dignity law
 The proposal for the law failed
 The state Public Disclosure
  Commission believed the leaflet violated
  Washington’s truth-in-political-
  advertising law and took legal action
  against the ―119 Vote No!‖ Committee
  – Commission said the proposition did
    contain standards and it would not lead to
    killer ophthalmologists
                  Death with dignity law

 The  charges were dismissed in court
 State Supreme Court later struck down
  the truth-in-political-advertising law
  citing its conflict with the First
  Amendment
  – Court decision allowed candidates to hide
    behind the First Amendment while lying in
    their advertisements
Example in Ohio
                                          Ohio

 1998   Governor race
  – Republican candidate, Bob Taft, ran a TV
    ad against his opponent, Democrat Lee
    Fisher with false information
                                 Taft False Ad
 ―Ohio's    police have endorsed Bob Taft
    for governor — and rejected Lee
    Fisher.‖
    – The Ohio Fraternal Order of Police had not
      endorsed either candidate
     ―As attorney general, Fisher cut crime-
    fighting employees by 15 percent.‖
    – Fisher had actually increased the number
      of crime-fighting employees
                               Taft False Ad
     complained to the Ohio Elections
 Fisher
 Commission about the ad
  – Commission ruled that Taft’s ad violated
    Ohio’s law against false statements
  – Taft’s only punishment was bad publicity
  – Elections Commission issued a letter of
    reprimand to Taft’s campaign, since it has
    no power to issue fines
  – Result: Taft easily won the election
                                                 Conclusions
   States can easily regulate the format of political
    advertisements
    – Requiring specific information in disclosure statements
      including the author of the ad and the fact the ad is a paid
      advertisement
   States essentially cannot regulate the content in
    political advertisements
    – Even with states that have laws against false information in
      political ads, it is hard to prove that the candidate knowingly
      lied in his ad
    – Also easy for a candidate to hide behind First Amendment
    – Punishment for a candidate found purposefully lying in his ad
      is not severe enough to deter candidates from making false
      ads
                                     Sources

 http://www.factcheck.org/specialreports/
  false_ads_there_oughta_be_a_law.html
 www.unimaps.com
 http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/
 http://www.sos.state.al.us/election/cfi/gl
  ad2006.htm