Last week, Amy Harris wrote a blog post for Politics about the emerging fight between the Florida Election Commission and campaigns which buy ads on search engines like Google.

Election officials believe that St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman’s Google ads violated state law because they omitted required disclaimers.

Now, the Association of Political Consultants is wading into the debate, saying that search ads are too small for disclosure statements. The AAPC issued this statement:

The AAPC fully supports political disclosure to clearly identify the source of electioneering messages. Disclosure language should reveal the source of the message without a burdensome surfeit of language that does not add any additional disclosure value.

Reasonable exemptions to this requirement have traditionally been granted for political items that are too small to accommodate a meaningful disclaimer – such as campaign buttons.

With respect to new media that did not exist when campaign regulations governing disclosure on electioneering materials were written, it is reasonable to apply a similar exemption to these new communications tools.
The AAPC therefore supports exempting certain new media communications (such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, MSN, etc.) from disclaimer requirements by virtue of character limitation when these communications lead the viewer to a web site or an online location that accurately discloses the original source of the electioneering message conveyed by the new media communication.