This series will provide a cursory overview of the steps needed to run for local office in Los Angeles County. The information provided is not intended to be legal advice. Readers should be cognizant that other local rules may apply in addition to state law.
We will now cover the legal requirements regarding advertising. Many types of advertising are required to have a disclaimer. In general, disclaimers will say “paid for by [committee name]” and include the committee I.D. number as well. There are additional requirements as to the font size of the disclaimer or whether the disclaimer should go at the beginning or end of a television ad. The general idea is that disclaimers should be readable and understandable.
So what kind of advertisements are covered by these disclaimer requirements? It covers traditional advertising such as mass mailings, newspaper ads, television ads, radio ads, yard signs, door hangers, flyers, and business cards. As for telephone calls, disclaimers apply to paid callers and robo calls, but not to volunteer callers or calls by the candidate his/herself.
We do live in a digital age and the disclaimer requirements apply to electronic communications as well. E-mails are required to have disclaimers. But candidates should also consider adding disclaimers to other communications such as banner ads, text messages, blog posts, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, Instagram posts, Google adwords, and smartphone apps. The list goes on as technology and trends rapidly change.
While a candidate can put a disclaimer on just about everything to bulletproof themselves, there are fortunately exceptions that apply to items too small to have a disclaimer. This includes campaign buttons, bumper stickers, pins, or magnets. You might also give away promotion items like pens and mugs. These too do not require disclaimers.
For more information such as requirements broken down by category, consult the applicable FPPC campaign disclosure manual.