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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Lawmaker will file bill to close Google-ad loophole



A state House Republican from Orlando today said he will file legislation next year to clarify state election laws when it comes to advertising on the Internet through search engines like Google.

The yet-to-be-filed bill by Rep. Eric Eisnaugle already has the support of state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. The bill comes in response to a state elections commission investigation surrounding Google ads paid for by St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Scott Wagman.

“Florida’s election laws were written well before the Internet became a part of daily life for Floridians and do not recognize the important dynamic of online communications," Eisnaugle said in a release. "I plan on bringing together stakeholders in the technology community and state elections officials to help match our laws with the next generation of communications.

“Voters need transparency to clearly understand who is paying for campaign advertising, but the state’s laws should not be archaic," he added. "I believe working together we can craft commonsense election laws that keep up with these rapidly growing technologies and preserve the integrity of the elections process.”

If you haven't been following Google-ad gate, this will catch you up. Basically, Wagman paid for Google ads that link to his campaign Web site but do not include the required political disclosure (which is longer than the Google ad space allows). Wagman has decided to fight the complaint, filed by former Jamie Bennett campaign manager Peter Schorsch, rather than pay a $250 fine.

Aaron Sharockman, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:03pm]


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