Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

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

IV. Independent Expenditure Ads on Ballot Measures

(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)
  • “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org.”
  • Disclosure Format: Text must be in no less than 14-point bold font and in a color that has a reasonable degree of contrast with the background of the advertisement
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.”
  • Disclaimer Format: Text must constitute at least five percent (5%) of the total height of the advertisement and must be in a color that has a reasonable degree of contrast with the background of the advertisement
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.”
  • 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.”
  • The disclaimer must be spoken at the beginning of the ad
  • 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
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” 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
      • Must remain online until 30 days after the date of election

    *This text is not required if including it in 8-point font would take up more than one- third (1/3) of the graphic or image. In such circumstances the ad need only include a hyperlink to a website containing the website disclosures

Social media ads
  • “Ad paid for by” disclosure 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 comment
    • 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” disclosure 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
  • “Paid for by,” and “Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org” disclaimers in a contrasting color and in no less than 8-point font at the top or bottom of the email message and every publicly accessible page of the Internet website
Electronic media ads that are audio only
  • See disclaimer requirements for radio ads above
Paid Spokesperson: Payment of $5,000 or more to an individual for individual’s appearance in a ballot measure ad
  • In addition to other disclaimers, include: “[spokesperson’s name] is being paid by this campaign or its donors”
  • Printed, televised or video ad: shown continuously in highly visible font except when the disclosure for television and video ads above is being shown
  • Radio broadcast or phone message: spoken in clearly audible format
Paid Spokesperson: Payment of any amount to an individual portraying a member of a licensed or certified occupation (e.g., nurse, firefighter, lawyer)
  • In addition to the disclaimer above, include: “Persons portraying members of an occupation in this advertisement are compensated spokespersons not necessarily employed in those occupations”
  • Printed or televised ad: shown continuously in highly visible font
  • Radio broadcast or phone message: spoken in clearly audible format

Exception: If the paid individual is actually a member of the occupation portrayed, the committee may omit this disclaimer. The committee must maintain documentation of the individual’s license or certification

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
    •  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) Communication Disclosure and Manner of Display
    • 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
  •  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
  • Text required to be included in a text message must be 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

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

Was this page helpful?

Scan with a QR reader to access page:
QR Code to Access Page
https://sfethics.org/compliance/campaigns/committees/committee-disclaimer-requirements/san-francisco-political-advertising-disclaimers-independent-expenditure-ads-on-ballot-measures