Iowa candidate web videos need "paid for" attribution statements

Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board Executive Director Megan Tooker has determined that state law requiring “paid for by” attribution lines for political advertising also applies to videos posted on free websites such as YouTube. David Chung, a member of the Republican Party of Iowa’s State Central Committee, had filed an ethics complaint against Brad Anderson, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state. (Chung is from Cedar Rapids, as is Anderson’s GOP opponent Paul Pate.) Anderson’s television commercial contains the standard attribution line, but some of his web videos did not. After the jump I’ve posted the relevant portion of Iowa Code.

Tooker informed Anderson that in her opinion, campaign videos available online should also include a “paid for” statement. Anderson’s campaign immediately altered the videos to comply. Jason Noble reported for the Des Moines Register, “So long as Anderson republishes the videos with appropriate attribution statements or publishes a corrective notice in the newspaper, he will not face a fine or penalty.”

Responding to my request for comment, the Anderson campaign noted, “Although state law is ambiguous related to requiring disclaimers on free YouTube videos, in the abundance of caution we have added disclaimers to all of our YouTube videos and will continue to moving forward.”

In a press release yesterday, Iowa GOP Co-Chairman Cody Hoefert thundered, “we now learn that Brad Anderson either ignored Iowa’s election laws or does not believe they apply to him. Either way, this only goes to underscore the fact that he is not someone Iowans can trust to uphold the integrity of their elections.” News flash for Hoefert: the Anderson campaign was able to point to many web videos that lacked “paid for” statements while promoting the Iowa GOP and/or Republican candidates and office-holders. For instance, Governor Terry Branstad’s campaign produced a video featuring Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds in order to drum up 2014 Iowa caucus attendance. In that video, she urged supporters to help elect Republicans up and down the ticket in 2014. Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey has also promoted his candidacy through web videos without attribution statements. The Iowa GOP itself produced a video promoting State Auditor Mary Mosiman without any attribution statement.

Obviously, Chung and the Iowa GOP were only playing out a stunt to gain an edge for Pate in what looks like a close contest for secretary of state. Nevertheless, it’s useful for Tooker to clarify that this portion of state law applies to web videos as well as to television commercials.  

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Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker facing calls to resign

Republican Party of Iowa Chair A.J. Spiker is facing a new challenge to his leadership, thanks to his disastrous handling of the 2014 GOP state convention scheduling. The first prominent Iowa Republican to call for Spiker’s resignation was David Kochel, a former senior adviser to Mitt Romney. But Kochel’s often out of sync with Iowa GOP leaders these days, as a public supporter of marriage equality.

During the past week, two members of the GOP’s State Central Committee have said it’s time for Spiker to go. Jamie Johnson and David Chung spoke out on Simon Conway’s WHO talk radio show on September 13. Chung fleshed out his argument at his Hawkeye GOP blog a few days later. I’ve posted excerpts from that piece after the jump. Chung makes clear that he doesn’t have the votes on the central committee to oust Spiker, nor does he expect Spiker to resign before his term is up. But he makes a compelling case, placing the “convention debacle” in the context of a “general leadership style that is absolutely tone-deaf to any input from outside [Spiker’s] inner circle.”

Remember, the Iowa GOP was named one of the country’s seven “most dysfunctional state parties” before the State Central Committee meeting where a motion to set the state convention for July 2014 passed with little discussion.

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Does it matter who ends up running the Republican Party?

Since the election, the quest to find a new leader for the divided Republican Party of Iowa has been a frequent topic for discussion on conservative blogs. No clear front-runner has emerged among the nine people known to be seeking the job. Some observers believe Iowa GOP treasurer Gopal Krishna has the most supporters on the 17-member State Central Committee that will select a new chair, although committee member David Chung handicaps the race differently.

All the candidates have been invited to appear at a public forum this Saturday, January 3, at the Iowa GOP headquarters. Knowing little about most of the people vying for this job, I’ve been intrigued by the comment threads at conservative blogs like “Krusty Konservative.” Attacks against this or that candidate have been nastier than anything I remember reading on Democratic blogs when Howard Dean was running for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2005.

The Republican National Committee also needs a new leader, with no front-runner for that job. A mini-scandal has erupted over one candidate’s decision to give RNC members a CD including a song called “Barack the Magic Negro.”

I’ve been wondering how much these leadership contests matter.

Obviously some people will be better organizers or better fundraisers or better communicators than others, and for all I know some of the declared candidates are truly inept. But let’s assume the Republicans find leaders with all the qualities on a party hack’s wish list. Will they be able to turn things around for the GOP by raising more money and improving their campaign mechanics?

Commenting on plans to create a think tank within the RNC called the “Center for Republican Renewal,” Matthew Yglesias recently observed,

Ambitious people don’t like the idea that their fate is out of their hands. But an opposition political party’s fate is largely out of its hands. The Democratic Party’s recovery from its low ebb in the winter of 2004-2005 had very little to do with Democratic policy innovation and a great deal to do with the fact that the objective situation facing the country got worse. The time for the GOP to improve, policy-wise, was back then. Had the Bush administration been animated by better ideas, Bush might not have led to declining incomes, rising inequality, and catastrophic military adventures. But since he did, the GOP lost. And now the reality is that it’s the Democrats’ turn to govern. If things work out poorly, the GOP will get back in whether or not they have an ideological renewal, and if things work out well the Republicans will stay locked out.

I suspect Yglesias is right. Republican conservatives want to “embrace their core principles and effectively communicate a compelling message of bold-color conservatism”. Moderates want to do away with “litmus tests” and “recapture the broad base.”

But the facts of life are these: in Iowa and at the federal level, voters have given Democrats control of the legislative and executive branches. Whether the Republicans bounce back in 2010 or 2012 will depend more on whether Democrats blow it than whether the RNC or the Iowa State Central Committee chooses the right leader.

What do you think?

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