In this season of national and local elections, have you ever wondered why election print and broadcast commercials begin or end with the line, “I’m (name) and I approve this message” ?
It is a matter of federal law, based on the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("McCain-Feingold"). Its original purpose was to prevent money raised outside the limits of federal campaign finance law to be used for any activity affecting elections – including funding of advertising messages – money known as “soft money”.
Depending upon the articles you read, it is suggested that the law would reduce the amount of attack ads. After all, if you put your name to the spot, you wouldn’t want to be associated with a message that was nasty or mean. But it, as one can see, didn’t act as much of a deterrent. According to the Federal Election Committee website
, there are many provisions, but some of the ones stated specifically that impact advertising include:
•Any communication made by a political committee - including communications that do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate - must now have a disclaimer.
•Candidate authorized radio and television ads must include an audio statement by the candidate approving the ad and, in addition for television communication, a view or image of the candidate and a written statement at the end of the communication.
•For radio or television communication that is not authorized by a candidate, the name of the political committee or other person who is responsible for the communication, and, if applicable, the name of the sponsoring committee's connected organization and for television a view of the representative making an audio statement and accompanied by a written statement at the end of the communication.
•Communications not authorized by the candidate must also provide their contact information.
But we just know it as a quick line – a warning at the beginning or end of a message to remind us that it is election season, this is a commercial and there are differences between the candidates that can be captured in 30 seconds or less.
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