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What Are Political Ads Required To Disclose?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Over the next few months, Minnesotans will be bombarded with political ads on television.

So, viewers like Anita from New Hope want to know:  What are political ads required to disclose? Good Question.

"For television and radio, it depends on who's speaking and what they're talking about," says Brian Dillon, a principal at Gray Plant Mooty.

If the ad is part of a federal race (i.e., U.S. Congress) and paid for by the campaign, the candidate themselves must identify themselves and say they approve the communication. During this time, the candidate's face must appear on-screen, either speaking the words or a voiceover image that includes 80 percent of the screen. The text on the screen must also identify the campaign and the approval.

If the federal ad is part of an independent expenditure of an outside group, an image isn't required, but a voice-over stating who's behind the ad is required. The text on the screen should include that information as well as a website, phone number or address.

GQ Poltical Ads
(credit: CBS)

These requirements came about in 2002 with the passage of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

"The thinking was there might be less negativity and less mudslinging if the candidates had to own the advertisements," says Dillon.

In state races (i.e., Governor), candidates don't have to speak that they approve the message, but the text at the end of the commercial must include that information.

For independent expenditures at the state level, the text at the bottom of the screen must state what group is responsible for the commercial.

If people want to find out more about an organization, Dillon suggests looking at the FEC filings that groups are required to make.

"Even then, it's difficult," he says.

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