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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St Pete election complaint could have wide repercussions



The Wall Street Journal today picks up on an interesting elections complaint filed against St. Pete mayoral candidate Scott Wagman. It's an issue that any Florida campaign should keep an eye on.

WSJ: An online twist in a hotly contested race for mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla., could signal trouble for local politicians advertising on popular Web sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter. The Florida Elections Commission has decided a mayoral candidate's ads on Google and Facebook appear to violate the state's election law because they don't include a disclaimer that indicates who bought them.

Buzz received an e-mail from Washington-based Democratic consultant Josh Koster, who says he's not working on Wagman's campaign, lambasting the notion of a penalty for a practice that has been going on for three election cycles. "These ads are sold on a Pay-Per-Click model, meaning they’re not paid ads unless someone clicks on them. (And people who click on them land on a page with a disclaimer.)," Koster said.

He notes that the ads in question have 95 characters, while “Political Advertisement Paid for and Approved by Bill McCollum, Republican, for Florida Governor” contains 89 characters.

Koster added this constructive promise as well about the election commission's executive director: "I have decided to draw a line in the sand. Should they not drop this complaint and begin focusing on real election problems, I will make it impossible for anyone to Google Simone Marstiller without realizing she’s a partisan political hack."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:55pm]


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