A political ad running on television for U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins is missing an element that the Federal Election Commission requires candidates to include.
The ad, which is an attack ad against Watkins’ opponent, Jake LaTurner, ends with Watkins saying, "I’m Steven Watkins and I approve this message."
A statement at the bottom of the ad reads, "Paid for by the committee to re-elect Steve Watkins," but fails to include an "approved by" statement.
According to FEC regulations, a political ad must contain a written disclaimer statement at the end of the ad and it must be similar to what the candidate has spoken.
According to Myles Martin, an FEC public affairs specialist, the written statement should include a "clearly readable disclaimer that states paid for by the name of their committee, whatever that is, and then the approval statement."
The FEC defines a disclaimer statement or notice as "a statement that identifies the person(s) who paid for a communication and whether the communication was authorized by one or more candidates."
"So it’s essentially just kind of putting it in writing that they are approving it in addition to either that voice-over or them on screen speaking it," Martin said.
Martin said he doesn’t have the authority to identify a missing statement as a violation because he isn’t a commissioner.
Generally speaking, Martin said, if the commission receives a complaint that an ad may be lacking a proper disclaimer, the penalties vary on a case-by-case basis.
"It could be possible that it could result in a civil penalty, which would be a fine or a letter of caution from the commission," Martin said.
Watkins and LaTurner are both running as Republicans for the U.S. House of Representatives’ District 2 seat. Watkins currently holds that position and is seeking re-election.
Bryan Piligra, Watkins’ campaign spokesman, said the television ad "won’t be coming down anytime soon."
"Jake LaTurner is horrified that an ad is telling the truth about him as a tax-raising ladder climber," Piligra said. "Watkins for Congress paid for and approves every message — as explicitly stated in the ad — that demonstrates LaTurner as the ladder-climbing, tax-raising fraud that he is."
If the commission receives a complaint on a particular, that something may lack a proper disclaimer, the penalties can vary. It’s evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Kara Zeyer, LaTurner’s campaign spokeswoman, said LaTurner’s team isn’t surprised by the missing statement.
"Let’s see, an active felony voter fraud investigation by the Shawnee County DA, an illegal straw man contributions investigation at the Federal Election Commission, a conduct unbecoming a member of Congress investigation by House ethics, and now this," Zeyer said.