Insider NJ Compliance Corner: Whose Ad is it Anyway?

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As we head into the summer, we also heading into the 2021 general election season in New Jersey. If the general election is anything like the 2021 primary election season, contribution requests will continue to pour in. Candidates will continue to hold both virtual and in-person events and voters will continue to consume information as they get ready to head to the polls in November.

During the summer (and even after Labor Day), it may be nearly impossible to turn on the tv, go on social media, answer your phone (if anybody does that anymore when they don’t recognize the number on their screen), or check your text messages without being inundated with political ads.

Do you ever wonder who is responsible for an ad and its messaging (or is that just us)? If you are curious, the answer should be simple… Check the Paid for Line. If the ad is paid for by a candidate or political party, the Paid for Line will include the candidate or party committee name and address. If, however, the ad is paid for by an outside or independent group, the Paid for Line will contain the name and address of the entity responsible for the ad but will also make it clear that the ad was not “made with the cooperation or prior consent of, in consultation with, or at the request or suggestion of any candidate or person or committee acting on behalf the candidate.”

Paid for Lines are often a source of frustration for those creating the ads because they can ruin the aesthetics of a mailer, ad or message and can be difficult to place – especially when space is limited. Paid for Lines do, however, serve an important purpose. Paid for Lines are a way of making sure the public understands the source of messaging related to a particular election, candidate or issue and can then sort through the information before heading to the polls.

So, the next time you watch tv, get your mail, answer your phone, or see political ads on social media, take a look at the Paid for Line if you are curious who is responsible for the content of the ad. And, if you are involved in creating, producing, or approving political ads, do not get annoyed with your attorneys when we remind you to add or check your Paid for Line.

Rebecca Moll Freed is Partner & Chair of Genova Burns, LLC’s Corporate Political Activity Law Practice Group.

This column is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice. It is recommended that readers not rely on this column, but that professional advice be sought for individual matters.

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  • Kathleen Demarest

    Thank you for writing this column.
    It was interesting and informative.

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