March 24, 2015
VIA E-MAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL
Julius P. Terrell, Esq., Treasurer
Edwin Powell for Ward 4
1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Suite 400
Washington, DC 20004
Re: Radio Advertisement
Dear Mr. Terrell:
This responds to your request for an opinion regarding the following issues:
1) Whether it is permissible for a candidate to provide a voice over for a non D.C. business radio advertisement in which the candidate states that he/she is a candidate for D.C. councilmember for Ward 4.
2) Whether the candidate may additionally state that as a mental health specialist he/she believes the provider of the services for whom the advertisement is designed to promote is “one of the best in the area”.
(3) Whether the advertisement is permissible as an in kind contribution and how can it be valued.
D.C. Official Code §1-1163.15(a) states that “All newspaper or magazine advertising, posters, circulars, billboards, handbills, bumper stickers, sample ballots, initiative, referendum, or recall petitions, and other printed matter with reference to or intended for the support or defeat of a candidate or group of candidates for nomination or election to any public office, … shall be identified by the words “paid for by” followed by the name and address of the payer or the committee or other person and its treasurer on whose behalf the material appears”.
3DCMR §3018.2 states that “Each advertisement transmitted electronically by satellite, radio, cable, internet, or mobile communication, telephone bank-robo calls, or any other forms of electronic advertisement shall be subject to the requirement of this section.”
While the candidate’s background as a mental health specialist may provide a basis for
the recommendation for the provider of the services being advertised, there does not
Interpretative Opinion 2015-01
March 24, 2015
appear to be any correlation between the candidate’s pursuit of elective office and the
services being advertised. Therefore, it is not clear why the advertisement includes a reference to the speaker’s candidacy.
Even though you indicated that the proposed advertisement will not solicit campaign donations or support and will not include an endorsement or reference the candidate’s platform or political agenda, the fact that the advertisement will include a reference to the candidacy of the speaker clearly falls within the definition of campaign literature. Consequently, the advertisement would constitute an in-kind contribution that would require the above referenced identification of the payer.
With regard to your inquiry concerning the value of the contribution, the assessment of an in kind contribution is based upon the reasonable value of the services provided. Thus, the value of the contribution in this case will be determined by the cost of the radio advertisement and the portion of the advertisement that refers to the candidate.
D.C. Official Code §1-1163.33(a) (4) states in pertinent part that” No person shall make any contribution which, and no person shall receive any contribution from any person which, when aggregated with all other contributions received from that person relating to a campaign for nomination or election to public office, including both the primary and general election or special election, exceed:…
“In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for …a member of the Council elected from a ward ... $500.”
Accordingly, the value of the in-kind contribution in question cannot exceed $500.
The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code §1-1163.06, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections on this transaction or activity.
Should you have any additional questions, please contact William O. SanFord, General Counsel, at (202) 671-0550.
cc: William O. SanFord