James Q. Lynch – Quad City Times Bureau
CEDAR RAPIDS — A candidate for Iowa secretary of state is adding a disclaimer to his YouTube videos that is required on political advertising.
Democrat Brad Anderson’s campaign isn’t conceding his videos are ads, but a spokeswoman said that “out of an abundance of caution” attributions statements will be added to make clear the videos were paid for by his campaign.
Anderson, a partner in a political consulting firm and President Barack Obama’s 2012 Iowa campaign director, is adding the disclaimer after a complaint was filed against him by a Republican official. He is running against Republican Paul Pate, a Cedar Rapids business owner and former mayor who served as secretary of state from 1995-99.
When he noticed the lack of an attribution statement, David Chung of Cedar Rapids thought perhaps YouTube videos were breaking new ground and there were no clear rules on the need for a “paid for” disclaimer.
“But then I went and looked at campaign videos from my guys, if you will, and I noticed they all had (disclaimers),” he said.
“I am amazed that someone who is campaigning to oversee all elections in the state of Iowa is either ignorant of the law or believes that it does not apply to him,” Chung said in a complaint he filed with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board.
Chung is not a disinterested party. He is a member of the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee.
“It seems like a guy running to be Secretary of State, to run our elections, ought to know something about our elections laws and follow them,” Chung said.
Megan Tooker, executive director of the ethics board, agreed. She is of the opinion the videos do require an attribution statement because they contain “express advocacy” — they specifically encourage Iowans to vote for Anderson.
Iowa Code requires an attribution statement on “television, video and motion picture advertising” as well as other forms of advertising. The attribution statement must be displayed on the screen for at least four seconds.
The Anderson campaign disagrees. Campaign manager Lara Henderson called the state law “ambiguous” regarding free YouTube videos.
The campaign, however, will add the attributions statement to all of its YouTube videos and “continue to moving forward.”
She also pointed out several YouTube videos by the state GOP and the re-election campaign for Gov. Terry Branstad that do not include an attribution statement.
By administrative rule, Anderson may add the attribution statement to his videos and then either resend the corrected videos to the same audience they originally were sent to or run a correction notice in the Des Moines Register, Tooker said.
The ethics board also has issued an advisory opinion on the need for attribution statements on messages posted to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and similar sites, she said.
Republican Party of Iowa Co-Chairman Cody Hoefert said it’s not the first time the Anderson campaign has been “embroiled in legal controversy.” Shortly before Anderson announced his candidacy, one of his political staffers, Zach Edwards, pleaded guilty to stealing Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s identity in an attempt to falsely implicate him in criminal wrongdoing.