Political “Ads”?

A couple of campaigns I’ve worked on in the past have had to deal with this issue, so I feel I know a little about it.

Cathy Cox is the Secretary of State of Georgia. Two weeks ago, the office of the Secretary of State “began a $500,000 advertising campaign on black radio stations across the state cautioning listeners about financial scam artists and telling them where to get help. The advertisements will run through November in Atlanta and through the end of the year outside the metro area.” Unless you’re just staunchly against government warning people about this sort of thing, this sounds like a good idea, no? Well, here’s where it gets tricky. See, Cathy Cox is also currently running for the Democratic nomination for Governor. Against Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor. So some people see it as tax-payer funded campaigning.

Last year’s Cox ads prompted Republicans to push legislation outlawing such practices, arguing that it’s unethical for Cox, a Democrat, to use the investor funds to campaign for office.
“These ads have nothing to do with investor protection and everything to do with raising her name identification among likely Democratic voters,” said Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth), a sponsor of the legislation, which was unsuccessful.

The problem with that approach, I think, is it puts office-holders who are in re-election or other election campaigns in a position that makes it very difficult to do their job. If Cathy Cox’s office is the one to talk to about scam artists, well, then I should know about it. Frankly, Bill Bozarth of Common Cause Georgia has it just about right – “[Office holders] always have the power to get themselves in the public light,” he said.

Now, I’m not saying there aren’t abuses of this privilege – and they do need to be checked. But this is not such a case and is more likely just typical election cycle complaining.

[Note: (1) Both Dems (in favor of Mark Taylor) and Repubs (in favor of Perdue) are doing complaining on this and both parties (both statewide and national) have this sort of issue occur with them, so don’t start leaving comments about how this or that party is full of dirty tricks, etc. That would just be unhelpful.
(2) An interesting part of this story is that it is running in Atlanta only through November and in the rest of the state until the end of the year – I wonder why…]

2 Comments so far

  1. Andisheh Nouraee (unregistered) on September 28th, 2005 @ 3:36 pm

    I don’t have an opinion about Cox’s politics one way or another, but I agree with the criticism that it’s self-promotion disguised as a PSA. There are countless ways to do ads like that. The information in the ads could have easily been conveyed by a voiceover artist or actor.

  2. everysandwich (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 11:24 pm

    Sometimes an elected official can legitimately build name recognition by doing his or her job. That’s one of the benefits of holding office.

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