Last week, the campaign of U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski called foul on what its attorneys called “the latest example of Kelly Tshibaka’s tendency to blatantly skirt, and in some cases, violate applicable laws.”
The complaint, which was set to Alaska television stations along with the Federal Elections Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, accuses the Tshibaka campaign of failing to follow “Stand by your ad” provisions in federal law that require ads to clearly identify the candidates sponsoring ads.
The provisions were approved by Congress in 2002 and essentially require the “I approve this message” you see and hear at the end of ads produced by a campaign. For ads attacking opponents, the law requires “a clearly identifiable photograph or similar image of the candidate for a duration of at least four seconds” along with a written disclaimer identifying the candidate.
The Murkowski campaign argues these were missing in an attack ad produced by Tshibaka, which only featured Tshibaka in the initial two seconds.
“Tshibaka’s most recent advertisement contributes to an already-toxic political environment while trying to evade responsibility for the attacks against Senator Murkowski,” explains the complaint. “Specifically, the advertisement fails to include the legally required image of Tshibaka during the final four seconds of the advertisement, in violation of federal law and in breach of her own certification of the law. These requirements of federal law are not arbitrary nor do they allow for discretion on the part of broadcast stations: they are clear mandates requiring candidates to take responsibility for their negative advertising.”
The complaint includes a copy of a certification the Tshibaka campaign provided to KTUU promising it would meet the requirement.
The complaint also calls out other instances where Tshibaka and her campaign have run afoul of the law, including being cited for fishing without a commercial license while filming an ad and was investigated for illegally purchasing a resident-only sport fishing license in 2019 (the investigators didn’t find enough evidence that Tshibaka knew she was doing something wrong when she obtained the license).
Now, the Murkowski campaign argues Tshibaka should be barred from receiving the discounted ad rate that candidates are typically entitled to. If not, the Murkowski campaign argues it would amount to the television stations personally contributing to Tshibaka’s election.
“Alaskans deserve candidates for public office who follow basic legal requirements. When candidates do not follow the law, they should not receive the benefit of discounted broadcast rates,” argues the complaint. “And Alaskan broadcasters do not have to provide such rates to candidates who choose to disregard the law. We expect your station will honor the requirements to promote proper attribution of candidates’ ads.”
According to Shea Siegert, spokesman for the Murkowski campaign, the campaign has not yet received a formal response from the federal government but is in continued talks with the Alaska stations.