Local News

New Laws Should Clean Up Campaign If People Know What They Are

Posted August 24, 1999

— Election season is heating up with television ads and signs, and it is only going to get more overwhelming as November gets closer.

New laws should clean up campaigns this year if everyone knows what those laws are.

Political advertisements on television and in newspapers can be confusing especially if you do not know who is behind them.

Under North Carolina law, the people putting those ads up are supposed to be clear about who they are, how the ads are paid for and what they stand for. Voters say it does not always happen.

Jeff Gillette wrote a letter to theWake County Board of Electionsbecause he was concerned about a television advertisement which casted negative light on three Cary Town Council members.

The ad was made by a group called CARE, Cary for A Responsible Environment.

"It would make a difference to me if these ads were being run by a private individual who is spending his own money because he believes the issue has merit. It would make a difference to me if it turned out that a small group of people who had a personal vendetta or agenda to settle against these particular candidates were running it for their own personal reasons. I think the public has a right to know," said Gillette.

TheState Board of Electionsis investigating the television spot as well as several similar newspaper ads placed by CARE's spokesperson, Tom Joyner.

The question is whether or not under the law they need to disclose who they are, their finances and possibly even register as a political committee.

"The purpose of the Campaign Reporting Act is to cause disclosure to the public so that they have as much information as possible about the special interests of the candidates when they go to vote," said Yvonne Southerland of the N.C. Board of Elections.

CARE's attorney and spokesperson said it is in issue-advocacy group and that they do not support any specific candidates and are not opposed to any specific candidates.

They said all of their advertising is within the law.


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