Today, legal counsel for Mazie Hirono’s U.S. Senate campaign sent a letter to Big Island radio station managers informing them that Linda Lingle’s campaign is currently running a radio advertisement that violates the Communications Act of 1934. Consequently, “Lingle and her campaign have forfeited their entitlement to the lowest unit charge” for radio advertisements, and Big Island station managers should charge the Lingle campaign the same rate for broadcast time that they charge for non-political advertisers from now until Election Day.
October 8, 2012Re: Linda Lingle Senate Committee AdDear Big Island Station Manager:We are counsel to Friends of Mazie Hirono. The purpose of this letter is to alert you to the fact that Linda Lingle and her authorized campaign committee, the Linda Lingle Senate Committee, are currently running an advertisement on your station that violates the Communications Act of 1934. As a result, Lingle and her campaign have forfeited their entitlement to the lowest unit charge for the duration of the campaign. Now and until Election Day, your station should charge Lingle and her campaign committee the same rate for broadcast time that it charges non-political advertisers for comparable use.The Communications Act of 1934 permits a federal candidate receiving the lowest unit charge to air a radio advertisement that makes direct reference to another candidate for the same office only if, “the broadcast includes a personal audio statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and indicates that the candidate has approved the broadcast.” 47 U.S.C. § 315(b)(2)(D) (emphasis added). If a candidate does not comply with this requirement at any time during the sixty days preceding the general election, that candidate may not receive the lowest unit charge “for such broadcast or any other broadcast … that occur on or after the date of such broadcast …” Id. § 315(b)(2)(B).This is not a requirement of Federal Election Commission rules. Rather, it falls within the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). A candidate’s campaign must provide written certification to your station at the time of purchase that it will comply with this requirement. Id. § 315(b)(2)(E). The purpose of the FCC requirement is to require candidates to demonstrate their support for the statements made in the preceding advertisement. Lingle’s advertisement, which makes direct reference to her opponent, Senate candidate Mazie Hirono, does not meet this requirement.Although Lingle states her name and indicates her approval of the advertisement, she does not identify the office she is seeking. Section 315 of the Communications Act specifically requires that the candidate identify the office she is seeking. Because Lingle does not identify the office she is seeking, the advertisement is in clear violation of the disclaimer requirements of section 315.Consequently, Lingle may no longer lawfully benefit from the lowest unit charge. As a result, for the duration of the current election cycle, your station should refuse to run additional advertisements from Lingle or her campaign committee unless paid at the rate your station charges for comparable use by other non-political advertisers.Please contact us should you have any questions regarding this matter.Very truly yours,Marc E. EliasJonathan S. BerkonCounsel for Friends of Mazie Hirono————-1. The advertisement can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1N0l2BWmaB8&feature=player_detailpage.