Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco Political Advertising Disclaimers Independent Expenditure Ads Referring to City Candidates

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General purpose committees provide a disclaimer that must include, unless otherwise noted: (1) “Paid for by committee name,(2) “This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office,” and (3) “Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org.”

Example:

  • “This ad was paid for by Committee for Green Parks. This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office. Financial disclosures available at sfethics.org.”

Primarily formed committees for or against a candidate must add an additional disclaimer that lists top two donors of $20,000 or more.

Example:

  • “Paid for by Citizens Against Senator Smith, major funding by International Workers Association and California Insurance Committee. This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office.  Financial disclosures are available at sfethics.org”

The following disclaimers apply to ads that expressly advocate for the support or opposition of a City candidate.

Communication Manner of Display
Allmass mailings (more than 200)
(See note below.)
  • Committee name, address (on file with Forms 410 or 461), and website reference on outside of mailing in no less than 14-point, bold sans serif type font and in contrasting print color.
  • “Not authorized or paid for by” statement must be contained in a box with a contrasting outline of at least 3.25 point font.  Also:
    • Text color must contrast with background.
    • Background colors of box and ad must contrast.
    • Statement must be located within 1/4 inch of recipient’s name and address.
  • An insert in the mailing must also state that the ad was not authorized by the candidate or a committee controlled by the candidate
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
Electronic Media

  1. Websites, blast emails and Facebook posts
  2. Adsof 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 Ethics 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

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.

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 15, 2015

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