HSPA reminds newspapers that state law requires political advertising to contain information identifying the person or entity authorizing or paying for the advertisement.
This includes advertising that advocates for the election or defeat of a political candidate. (See IC 3-9-3-2.5.)
The actual disclaimer language depends on who paid for the ad and whether a candidate or a candidate’s committee authorized it:
• If the candidate or his or her committee pays for the ad, it must clearly state that fact.
• If the ad was paid for by someone else but authorized by the candidate or his or her committee, then the ad must clearly state who paid for it and who authorized it.
• If the ad was paid for by someone else but not authorized by any candidate or committee, the ad must clearly state who paid for the ad and that the ad was not authorized by any candidate or committee.
State law doesn’t require an entity to include the name of any individual associated with a candidate’s committee.
However, HSPA recommends, particularly on local ads, the inclusion of a president’s or treasurer’s name when the advertisement is purchased by an entity.
This gives a potential unhappy target of the ad a name to go after if a libel lawsuit is contemplated, so that perhaps the newspaper won’t be included as a defendant. If there’s no president or treasurer name on the ad, then the would-be plaintiff is forced to sue the newspaper to obtain the name of the person that the plaintiff really wants.
You may not be able to apply this policy with statewide or federal races because they may be preparing multi-county ad programs, but the libel danger isn’t as great because those campaigns are generally more sophisticated and run by individuals who understand the liability of potential libel as it relates to political campaigns.
For other questions about political advertising, contact HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key at (317) 624-4427 or firstname.lastname@example.org.