Paid for By" Lines in Political Advertisements: Are They Required?

The Louisiana Election Code, La. R.S. 18:1 et seq., sets forth the applicable standards for political advertisements printed in connection with Louisiana local and state elections.  According to La. R.S. 18:1505.3, a political advertisement paid for by the candidate, the candidate’s political committee, or their agents does not require a “paid for by” line.  However, if a third-party entity pays for a political advertisement for a candidate, the name of the third-party entity must be displayed on the advertisement.  Id.  Such a “paid for by” line “shall be no less than half of the font size” of the advertisement’s content.

Notably, when publishing a political advertisement paid for by an entity not directly affiliated with the candidate, the publisher must acquire, prior to publishing, a written statement from the entity paying for the advertisement.  This statement must contain: “(i) [t]he full name and address of the individual or name of the organization, committee, or corporation, and the full name and address of its chairman or other chief administrative officer, who is the source of the funds used to pay for the advertisement, and (ii) [a] statement that the advertisement is being run with the knowledge and consent of the candidate or political committee which the advertisement purports has paid for the advertisement.”  La. R.S. 18:1505.3(D)(2)(b).  This written statement must be maintained as a public record at the publisher’s official business address for a period of two (2) years during which time the publisher shall make the statement available for public inspection as the custodian of a public record pursuant to the Louisiana Public Records Act codified at La. R.S. 44:1, et. seq.  La. R.S. 18:1505.3(D)(2)(d).

While the Louisiana Election Code governs political advertisements pertaining to state and local elections, the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 sets forth a publisher’s responsibilities as to political advertisements for federal electoral candidates.  In contrast to the Louisiana Election Code, under 52 U.S.C. §30120, the publisher must identify who paid for the political advertisement regardless of whether it is paid for by the candidate or a third-party entity.

A political advertisement concerning a candidate seeking a federal office must include a “paid for by” line in accordance with the following rules:

1.  If the political advertisement is “paid for and authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, [it] shall clearly state that [it] has been paid for by such [candidate or] authorized political committee.”

2.  If the political advertisement is “paid for by other persons but authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, [it] shall clearly state that [it] is paid for by such other persons and authorized by such [candidate or] authorized political committee.”

3.  If the political advertisement is “not authorized by a candidate, an authorized political committee of a candidate, or its agents, [it] shall clearly state the name and permanent street address, telephone number, or World Wide Web address of the person who paid for [it] and state that [it] is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.”

52 U.S.C. §30120(a) (formerly 2 U.S.C. §441(d)); 11 C.F.R. §110.11(b).  Further, 11 C.F.R. §110.11(c) contains detailed specifications for a “paid for by” line issued in connection with a federal electoral candidate, which specifications include that the line “be of sufficient type size to be clearly readable,” “be contained in a printed box set apart from the other contents of the [political advertisement],” and “be printed with a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the printed statement.”

If you have concerns about whether your publication complies with state or federal campaign laws, please contact us.             

Author: W. Scott Keaty Practice Area: Media Law Date: March 31, 2015


Disclaimer: The information provided herein (1) is for general information only; (2) does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author or the author’s firm and the reader; (3) does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, or professional consulting of any kind; and (4) does not substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax or other competent advisors.  Before making any decision or taking any action in connection with the matters discussed herein, you should consult with a professional legal, tax and/or other advisor who should be provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. The information provided herein is provided “as is,” with no assurance or guarantee of completeness, accuracy, or timeliness of the information.

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