Local News

Legislator Wants Bill To Ban State Officials From Appearing In PSAs

Posted May 13, 2004 5:36 a.m. EDT

— You have probably seen public service announcements featuring elected state officials. One lawmaker is pushing a bill that would ban state officials from appearing in those ads.

State Rep. Cary Allred, R-Alamance, said officials who appear in the public service announcements are promoting themselves. He and other lawmakers are turning up the heat, sponsoring a bill that would ban state-elected officials from appearing in public service announcements.

"They are taking advantage of the system in order to put their face and name on television at taxpayers' expense," he said.

State Attorney General Roy Cooper was criticized when he appeared in a PSA, warning consumers about identify theft. When Gov. Mike Easley was Attorney General in 1997, he ran a similar ad and received similar criticism.

"If they really wanted to promote the issue, they would do it without putting their picture in the ad," Allred said.

Some critics claim television is the most effective way to get a message out to the masses and that it is necessary to have the elected official deliver that message, so that citizens know it is coming from a credible and reliable source.

"I believe I'm the best spokesperson of all. It's certainly gives more credibility to have your state office holder as the one rather than some actor who costs money," said N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

Marshall said her PSAs on white collar crime would have cost $40,000 if paid actors were hired. Instead, the ad cost $8,000.

"Citizens have come up to me to say thank you for getting that information out," she said.

However, Marshall does not deny the ads have a political benefit.

"I hope everything I do at this office that I do well benefits me politically," she said.

Viewers will not see any PSAs any time soon. Under current state law, they are not allowed to air during an election year.