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American Association of Political Consultants issues statement regarding the use of disclaimers on new media communications

in The Bay and the 'Burg by
Last week, the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) issued this policy statement in response to a Florida Election Commission complaint filed against Mayoral candidate Scott Wagman in St. Petersburg, alleging he omitted the state’s required disclaimer in online advertisements he was sending out.
Brian Franklin, a member of AAPC and a consultant to State Senator Ted Deutch of Florida, requested this statement to aid the senator in writing and defending his proposed legislation regarding disclaimers on online advertising.

The American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC), the world’s largest non-partisan trade association for political professionals, believes that political disclosure on Twitter, Facebook, Bing and other selective new media outlets is overly burdensome. In new media where brevity is the basis of the medium popularity, disclosure seems unrealistic and unreasonable.

The AAPC has issued this statement regarding disclosure requirements for new media political communications:

“The AAPC fully supports political disclosure to clearly identify the source of electioneering messages. Disclosure language should reveal the source of the message without a burdensome surfeit of language that does not add any additional disclosure value.

“Reasonable exemptions to this requirement have traditionally been granted for political items that are too small to accommodate a meaningful disclaimer – such as campaign buttons.

“With respect to new media that did not exist when campaign regulations governing disclosure on electioneering materials were written, it is reasonable to apply a similar exemption to these new communications tools.

“The AAPC therefore supports exempting certain new media communications (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, etc).from disclaimer requirements by virtue of character limitation when these communications lead the viewer to a web site or an online location that accurately discloses the original source of the electioneering message conveyed by the new media communication.”

The AAPC, known for its Code of Ethics is dedicated to elevating the democratic process and the standards of practice in the field of political consultation. Founded in 1969, the AAPC is best known for its annual celebration of the best in political communications; The Pollies.

The organization also functions as an advocate for the political consulting profession as well as being an arbiter for best practices in the industry. Most recently the issues tackled by the AAPC have included defending free political speech and in 1996 issuing a declaration condemning the practice of Push Polling. The AAPC defines a “Push Poll” as when phone calls aimed at voter persuasion are dishonestly presented to voters as surveys of public opinion.

Cathy Allen, spokesperson for The AAPC said, “As the new media takes us into uncharted waters regarding political speech disclosure, The AAPC will continue to offer expert recommendations and best practices based on the collective non-partisan institutional memory of our members and their desire for freedom of speech for the candidates and causes they represent.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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