Political advertising rules and recommendations

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Under Indiana law (I.C. 3-9-3-2.5), the person or entity placing a political advertisement (one calling for the election or defeat of a candidate) must be identified in one of three ways:

  • If the candidate or his or her campaign committee place the ad, it must state it was paid for by either the candidate or candidate’s committee.
  • If the ad is placed by some other individual or entity but has been OK’d by a candidate or candidate’s committee, the ad must state who paid for the ad and that it has been authorized by the candidate or candidate’s committee.
  • If the ad is placed by some other individual or entity and has NOT been OK’d by a candidate or candidate’s committee, the ad must state who paid for the ad and that it is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.

HSPA Executive Director and General Counsel Steve Key recommends newspapers consider a policy of including a name of an individual who placed a political ad as opposed to “Friends of Candidate Smith.” Though not required by law, this serves as a restraint on the most outrageous political attacks.

It also supplies the name of someone who can be served if a political attack ad leads to a defamation lawsuit. This way a candidate doesn’t have to sue a newspaper to find out who the defendant in the case should be. This recommendation may be harder to apply to statewide political advertising, but it’s also probably not as necessary with those races because statewide candidates are more likely to understand the limits brought to bear by libel law.

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