CLC Asks FCC to Review Gorsuch Ads

Apr 6, 2017
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Judicial Crisis Network Ads Wrongly Classified as “Non-Political”

Today, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) asked the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to review broadcast filings from the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which has spent millions of dollars on advertisements urging U.S. senators to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, but did not provide the disclosure required under federal law.  

The Communications Act provides that broadcasters must disclose specific information about the source of advertisements when those ads air “a message relating to any political matter of national importance.” The JCN ads indisputably meet this standard, and yet JCN incorrectly labeled its advertisements as non-political.

“Broadcasters have an obligation to ensure voters have relevant information about who is attempting to influence their views," said Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at the Campaign Legal Center. "By broadcasters accepting at face value Judicial Crisis Network’s claims that their ads did not pertain to any ‘political matter of national importance,’ the public was deprived of the important information that federal law and regulations require."

“Some stations conducted their due diligence and required Judicial Crisis Network to amend their improper filings, but the majority of stations did not," said Meredith McGehee, strategic advisor at the Campaign Legal Center. "The FCC must follow up with these broadcast licensees and ensure that they comply with their obligations under the law."

Ads that pertain to “a message relating to any political matter of national importance” are placed into a broadcaster’s political file, and the advertiser must report who is behind the ad and to list the executive board members, or highest-ranking officers, of the sponsoring group. If completed truthfully and fully, the online files should provide the public the information needed to accurately identify who is behind the ads.

Read the letter here

Read the Judicial Crisis Network FCC Filings, compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics

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