Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco Political Advertising Disclaimers City Ballot Measure Ads

Print Copy

(by committees primarily formed for a City ballot measure)

The disclaimer must include, unless otherwise noted: 

“Paid for by committee name”, “Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org”, and, if applicable
“Major funding by (name of top two donors of $20,000 or more).”

Examples:

  • “Paid for by Citizens in Support of Measure B, Sponsored by the Taxpayers Alliance. Major Funding by ABC Corporation and XYZ Partnership. Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org.”
  • “Paid for by Californians for Education, a Committee Opposed to Proposition 1. Top Contributors are Student Political Action Committee and ZZZ Trade Association. Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org.”
  • “Paid for by Voters in Support of Measure A. Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org.” (no sponsors/$20,000 donors)
Communication Manner of Display
All mass mailings (more than 200)
(See note below.)
  • Committee name, address (on file with Forms 410), and website reference on outside of mailing in no less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font and in contrasting print color
Telephone calls
(more than 200) – made by vendors (“robo” calls) or paid individuals
  • Must be at least 3 seconds either at the beginning or end of the call
Radio
  • Must be at least 3 seconds either at beginning or end of the ad
  • Ad which is 15 seconds or less requires only highest major contributor
Television
  • Both written & spoken at the beginning or end of ad
  • Not less than 4 seconds
  • Size & contrasting color must be legible to average viewer
  • Ad which is 15 seconds or less requires only highest major contributor
  • Exception- no spoken disclosure required if written statement is shown for at least 5 seconds on a 30 second broadcast or 10 seconds on 60 second broadcast
ElectronicMedia

  1. Websites, blast emails and Facebook posts
  2. Ads of limited size (micro bar, button ad, ads limited to 500 characters or less)
  3. SMS texts
  4. Electronic ads sent in an audio format
  5. Electronic ads sent in a video format
  1. Disclaimer statement must be in the same font size as majority of text and displayed conspicuously near the ad
  2. Ad must provide disclaimer via rollover, link, or other connection to website with the disclaimer
  3. Include the committee ID number and preferably link to the committee’s campaign statement on Ethic Commission’s website
  4. Same requirements as for radio ads above
  5. Same requirements as for television ads above
Newspaper ads
  • No less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font and in contrasting print color
  • Ad which is 20 sq. in. or less requires only highest contributor
  • Also check the Elections Code (i.e., section 20008)
Yard Signs (more than 200)
Billboards
  • 5% of height of advertisement in contrasting color
Door hangers, flyers, posters, and oversized campaign buttons and bumper stickers (buttons 10” across or larger and stickers 60 sq inches or larger) (all more than 200)
  • No less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font and in contrasting print color
  • Ad which is 20 sq inches or less requires only highest major contributor
Paid spokesperson

  1. $5,000 or more to an individual in ad
  2. Any payment to individual in ad portraying a member of a licensed occupation (e.g., firefighter, lawyer, etc.) who is not actually a member of that occupationIf the individual is actually a member of the occupation portrayed, the committee may omit this disclaimer and shall maintain documentation of the individual’s license or certification for the occupation.  
  1. Additional Disclaimer:Spokesperson’sname is being paid by this campaign or its donors”
  2. Additional Disclaimer:  “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

Note: Two display rules exist for mass mailings.  A mass mailing must have the committee name/address on the outside of an envelope in 6 pt type; while the manner of display for the ad disclaimer requires the committee name in no less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font. Often a one-page mailer combines the display rules with both the committee name and address in no less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font although the address may be at 6 pt. type.

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.

Note that compliance with the disclaimer rules for ballot measure ads will satisfy electioneering communications disclaimer requirements, which may be triggered if the ad mentions a City candidate.

Ballot measure committee names. Specific state rules apply to the name of a ballot measure committee – see notes below and Statement of Organization, Form 410, instructions.

    • Within 30 days of a ballot designation, the committee name must include the measure number or letter and whether it supports or opposes the measure
    • A committee controlled by a candidate and a committee that receives $50,000 or more from a candidate must include the candidate’s name
    • A sponsored committee must include the sponsor’s name
    • A name or phrase that clearly identifies the economic or other special interest of its major donors of $50,000 or more is required
    • The name of an employer is required if donors of $50,000 or more share a common employer
    • Donors of $50,000 or more must be listed in descending order based on the amount of contributions made (if top two donors gave identical amounts, disclose the most recent)
    • The top two $50,000 or more donors must be listed first, before other groups such as “concerned citizens,” “consumers,” “taxpayers,” etc.

References: San Francisco Campaign and Governmental Conduct Code Section: 1.161
California Government Code Sections: 82031, 84305, 84310, 84506, 84506.5, 84507, 84508, 84509.
Title 2 Regulations: 18225, 18435, 18440, 18450.1, 18450.4, 18450.5.

Revised: October 9, 2016

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