Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

Independent Expenditure Ads on Candidates (by Candidates and Political Party Committees)

V. Independent Expenditure Ads on Candidates (by Candidates and Political Party Committees)

CommunicationDisclaimer and Manner of Display
Print ads designed to be individually distributed including mailings, door hangers, flyers, faxes, posters, newspaper and magazine ads and oversized campaign buttons and bumper stickers (buttons ten (10) inches in diameter or larger and stickers sixty (60) square inches or larger)
  • “Ad paid for by [committee’s name]” (on file with Form 410) (Note: a printed letter ad may use “Paid for by” instead of “Ad paid for by”)
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
  • A statement that the advertisement was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate or if the advertisement was authorized or paid for by a candidate for another office, the disclosure must read: “This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office”
  • Disclosure Format: Text must be in no less than 14-point font and in a color that has a reasonable degree of contrast with the background of the advertisement
    • “Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
Print ads larger than those designed to be individually distributed, such as billboards and signs (including yard signs)
  • “Ad paid for by [committee’s name]” (on file with Form 410)
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
  • A statement that the advertisement was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate or if the advertisement was authorized or paid for by a candidate for another office, the disclosure must read: “This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office”
  • Disclosure Format: Text must constitute a height of at least five percent of the advertisement, meaning that each line must be at least five percent (5%) of the advertisement, and must appear in a color that has a reasonable degree of contrast with the background
    • “Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
Electronic media ads that are a graphic, image, animated graphic, or animated image that the online platform hosting the advertisement allows to link to an internet website not covered below (except for video ads, see above)
  • “Who funded this ad?” or “Paid for by” or “Ad paid for by” included or displayed as a hyperlink, icon, button or tab in a contrasting color and font size that is easily readable by the average viewer for the duration of the advertisement*
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
    • Must link to a website containing the “Ad paid for by” and “Not authorized by” disclosures in a contrasting color and in no less than 8-point
    • “Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
    • Must remain online until 30 days after the date of election

*This text is not required if including it is impracticable. In such circumstances the ad need only include a hyperlink to a website containing the website disclaimers

Social media ads
  • “Ad paid for by” and “Not authorized by” disclosures in a contrasting color that is easily readable by the average viewer and in no less than 10-point font on the cover or header photo of the committee’s profile, landing page, or similar location; disclosures are not required on each individual post or similar location; disclosures are not required on each individual post or comment
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
    • Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
    • The disclosure must be visible on the cover or header photo when the profile, landing page, or similar location is viewed from any electronic device that is commonly used to view this form of electronic media including, but not limited to, a computer screen, laptop, tablet or smart phone. If this is impracticable only a hyperlink, icon, button, or tab to an internet website containing the “Ad paid for by” and “Not authorized by” disclosures is permissible
    • Not required when the only expense or cost of the communication is compensated staff time unless the social media account was created only for the purpose of advertisements under the Act
Website and email
  • “Who funded this ad” text as a hyperlink in a contrasting color and font size that is easily readable by the average viewer*
        • Must hyperlink to a website containing the “Ad paid for by,” and “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org” disclaimers in a contrasting color and in no less than 8-point font
        • “Not authorized by” disclaimer may not appear in all capital letters
        • Must remain online until (30) days after the date of election
Website and email
  • “Paid for by” and “Not authorized bydisclosures printed clearly and legibly in a contrasting color and in no less than 8-point font at the top or bottom of the email and every publicly accessible page of the website
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”
    • “Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
Electronic media ads that are audio only
  • See disclosure requirements for radio ads below
Radio ads, telephone calls and audio only electronic media ads
  • “Ad paid for by” [committee’s name] (on file with Form 410)
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”
  • A statement that the advertisement was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate or if the advertisement was authorized or paid for by a candidate for another office, the disclosure must read: “This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office”
  • Disclosure Format: Must be spoken clearly for at least three (3) seconds at the beginning of the ad or call, in a pitch and tone substantially similar to the rest of the advertisement
Television and video ads (including those disseminated over the Internet)
  • “Ad paid for by” [committee’s name] (on file with Form 410)
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”
  • A statement that the advertisement was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate or if the advertisement was authorized or paid for by a candidate for another office, the disclosure must read: “This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office”
  • Disclosure Format: Text must be of sufficient size to be legible to an average viewer, in a contrasting color to the background and must appear for at least four seconds at the beginning of the advertisement. If the television or video ad is shorter than the required disclosure display time, the disclosure may be displayed for the length of the advertisement
    • “Not authorized by” disclosure may not appear in all capital letters
    • Disclosure must also be spoken at the beginning of the ad
Text messages sent using mass distribution technology

If sent by a candidate-controlled committee for elective office of the controlling candidate:

  • “Paid for by” or “With” followed by the name of the candidate followed by “For” followed by the name of the office sought in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in a font size that is readable by the average viewer
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”
  • If “With” is used:
    • The individual sending the text shall identify themselves by including: “(name of the individual) with (name of the candidate) for (name of office sought)” in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in a font size that is readable by the average viewer
    • A disclosure using “With” may appear anywhere in the text message, including conversational content, and need not appear as a separate statement apart from the content of the message

If sent by a political party committee:

  • “Paid for by” or “With” followed by the name of the committee, or a hyperlink or URL for an internet website (in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in a font size that is readable by the average viewer) containing the following disclosures:
    • “Paid for by” or “With” [committee’s name]” (on file with Form 410 or 461)
    • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”
    • A statement that the advertisement was not authorized by a candidate or a committee controlled by a candidate
    • The text of the disclosures on the internet website shall be in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in no less than 8-point font
  • If “With” is used:
    • The individual sending the text shall identify themselves by including: “(name of the individual) with (name of committee or hyperlink or URL)” in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in a font size that is readable by the average viewer
    • A disclosure using “With” may appear anywhere in the text message, including conversational content, and need not appear as a separate statement apart from the content of the message
  • An internet website that is hyperlinked shall remain online and available to the public until 30 days after the election
  • The text of the disclosures on the internet website shall be in a color that reasonably contrasts with the background on which it appears and in no less than eight-point font
  • For text message exchanges consisting of a sequence of multiple text messages sent on the same day the disclosure is only required on the first text message in the sequence that supports or opposes a candidate or measure

The guidance above incorporates requirements imposed pursuant to state and San Francisco law. The information on this chart does not carry the force of law. If there are any discrepancies between the chart and state or local law or their corresponding regulations and opinions, the law, regulations and opinions will control.

Revised: March 2020

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