(Chuck Muth) – For a lawyer who won a slander suit just last summer, you’d think Republican U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian and his experienced team of high-priced, out-of-state political operatives would know how to produce a campaign television commercial that complies with the law.
You’d think wrong.
Personally, I think most FEC regulations are total BS. They’re stupid. They’re trivial. They’re an impediment to free speech. But they’re also the law. And if you want to play in the big leagues, you gotta know the rules of the game. If not, even if it’s just a technical foul, you end up having someone like me blow the whistle on you, causing your campaign unnecessary trouble and expense to fix. Like this….
Ms. Thomasenia Duncan, General Counsel
Federal Election Commission
Office of the General Counsel
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463
March 25, 2010
The Complainant, Charles A. Muth, hereby submits this Complaint, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. § 427(g) and 11 CFR § 111.4, against Respondents Danny Tarkanian and Tarkanian for Senate (FEC ID # C00465963).
Danny Tarkanian, one of approximately thirteen (13) candidates for United States Senate from Nevada, recently began airing television advertisements. These advertisements may be found at http://tark2010.org/tarkads (as of March 25, 2010). The first advertisement is labeled “Conservatives Endorse” and then, without showing or mentioning the name of any – even just one! – conservative that has endorsed his candidacy, the advertisement proceeds to list some of Mr. Tarkanian’s new-found policy positions, and then ends with a tiny disclaimer on the screen reading “PAID FOR AND APPROVED BY TARKANIAN FOR SENATE.”
The advertisement in question is grossly misleading (it fails to note that the liberal Brady Campaign strongly supported Tarkanian’s previous candidacy because of his stated opposition to 2nd Amendment rights), but of immediate concern to the Federal Election Commission should be the advertisement’s legally deficient disclaimer. Federal Law requires that a television advertisement paid for by a Federal candidate committee must “include a…statement that must appear in clearly readable writing at the end of the television communication” See 11 CFR § 110.11(c)(3)(iii). Federal Law goes on to specify that the written statement must “appear in letters equal to or greater than four (4) percent of the vertical picture height.” 11 CFR § 110.11(c)(3)(iii)(A). Upon information and believe, the written statement in this advertisement in question is 3.472 percent of the vertical picture height, which is substantially below the legally permissible size.
In addition, Federal Law requires that the “statement must appear with a reasonable degree of color contrast between the background and the text of the statement. A statement satisfies the color contrast requirement of this paragraph (c)(3)(iii)(C) if it is printed in black text on a white background or if the degree of color contrast between the background and the text of the statement is no less than the color contrast between the background and the largest type size used in the communication.” 11 CFR § 110.11(c)(3)(iii)(C). The statement in this advertisement, however, uses white text on what is at times an almost white background. Specifically, the word “Senate,” which is the key part of name of the Committee, is almost totally washed out and unreadable, in clear violation of the legal readability requirements.
I hereby respectfully request that the Commission investigate the crime of failing to abide by Federal disclaimer requirements that is outlined above. Mr. Tarkanian is an experienced candidate that has run for office multiple times (albeit unsuccessfully) and therefore must know the importance of legal compliance, and therefore his legal violations can only be considered knowing and willful. It is my belief that Mr. Tarkanian has spent over five-thousand dollars ($5,000) on the advertisement that does not comply with Federal disclaimer requirements, thereby meeting the threshold for referring this matter to the U.S. Department of Justice, See 2 U.S.C. § 437g(d)(I)(B). I consequently encourage a referral to the Department of Justice in order to send a message to perennial candidates such as Mr. Tarkanian that they and their campaigns are not above the law.
Charles A. Muth, Complainant
Las Vegas, NV 89110