Here’s how to report illegal political campaign ads and signs – and more

[Editor: the AdWATCH story below only tells you how to report improper or missing disclosure of who is sponsoring a political sign or advertisement.  That’s important, but the FPPC’s FILE A COMPLAINT page is much broader.  It also accepts complaints regarding • Financial conflicts of interest; • Campaign money laundering; • Over-the-limit gifts and contributions; • Improper use of campaign funds, including personal use; • Campaign mass mailings at public expense; • False, inadequate, or inaccurate reporting on statements of economic interests; • campaign statements and reports; • Non-filing or late filing of such statements and reports; and • Anonymous or cash contributions of $100 or more).  Let’s all be vigilant during the March 3 and November 13 2020 elections!   – R.S.]

Fair Political Practices Commission resumes AdWATCH

Invites residents to participate

By Vallejo Times-Herald | January 6, 2020

SACRAMENTO — The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is reintroducing it’s successful AdWATCH program to provide the public a way to participate in making sure there is proper disclosure on political signs and other advertising, the agency announced Monday.

FPPC launched FPPC AdWATCH for the 2019 election cycle and is now resuming an updated FPPC AdWATCH for the 2020 primary election. FPPC AdWATCH on the FPPC website provides a place where anyone can upload a picture of a campaign sign or video they think may be questionable in terms of the legally required disclosure.

“FPPC AdWATCH is an easy way for the public to help determine who’s behind some of the political advertising around the State,” said FPPC Chair Richard C. Miadich in a statement released by the agency. “Not only does it help the public see who’s doing the advertising, but the public plays a vital role in helping our Enforcement Division do its job of making sure campaigns are following the rules and ensuring a level playing field.”

One of the portals allows you to upload a picture of a campaign billboard or sign, either from a desktop, laptop or from their mobile device. Another portal accepts links to videos of campaign ads, either internet or television.

The FPPC Enforcement Division is then able to quickly view the ads to determine if they contain proper disclosure and take appropriate action if they don’t. The portal allows the public the option to provide their name or remain anonymous and report the ad without filing a complaint with the FPPC.

“One of the key points of the law is the public deserves to know who’s paying for political advertising,” said FPPC Enforcement Chief Galena West in the same press release. “We rely on the public to help us make sure the correct information is out there and that campaigns follow the law.”

In its 2019 run, the public uploaded more than 150 ads to FPPC AdWATCH. In addition, FPPC Enforcement proactively reviewed 600 more ads and combined found more than 120 advertisements that were potentially non-compliant. When the FPPC Enforcement Division determines who is responsible for the ad, they are then contacted for correction or removal of the non-compliant advertisement, if feasible.

This system is now active. Visit the FPPC website www.fppc.ca.gov and you’ll find FPPC AdWATCH both on the home page and on the Enforcement tab www.fppc.ca.gov/enforcement/adwatch.html.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) is California’s governmental ethics and campaign disclosure agency.