VIDEO: City Council announcement of legal action on push poll

Excerpt from Benicia City Council video, October 2, 2018

This 7 minute video begins with City Attorney Heather McLaughlin reporting action taken by the Council in closed session to initiate legal action on the recent “push poll” attack, and includes comments by Vice Mayor Steve Young, Council member Tom Campbell and Mayor Elizabeth Patterson. (See transcript and relevant section of Benicia’s Municipal Code below…)


City Attorney Heather McLaughlin announcement on 10/2/2018:
“We also met in closed session on conference with legal counsel regarding anticipated litigation and the initiation of litigation regarding potential enforcement of Benicia Municipal Code Section 140, and this is regarding the push poll that came out in recent days. The Council gave me direction regarding initiating a lawsuit on this. The concern is that the poll did not comply with the disclosure requirements of the ordinance. As follow-up to that, I have been directed to contact the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding enforcement of the disclosure rules. And I’m also to send a letter to EMC and to Research America informing them about our ordinance and demanding that they provide us the questions and who paid for the poll. And then finally, we’re going to provide a press release. And I think some of the Council members would like to add onto that. That was a four-one decision.”

Benicia Municipal Code Section 140
(download PDF or go to City of Benicia website)  Here is a relevant subsection:

1.40.042 Disclaimer requirements for campaign communications funded by independent expenditures.

A. Campaign communications funded by an independent expenditure supporting or opposing city candidates or city measures shall include the phrase “Not authorized by a candidate,” and shall also include the name of any contributor of $2,500 or more made in the past six months to a committee funding the independent expenditure, in the phrase “Major Funding Provided By [Name of Contributor(s)].” Expenditures of $2,500 or more that are earmarked for any other candidate or ballot measure outside of the city of Benicia need not be disclosed.

B. The disclosures required by this section shall be presented in a clear and conspicuous manner to give the reader, observer or listener adequate notice, as specified below:

1. For printed campaign communications that measure no more than 24 inches by 36 inches, all disclosure statements required by this section shall be printed using a typeface that is easily legible to an average reader or viewer, but is not less than 10-point type in contrasting color to the background on which it appears. For printed campaign communications larger than this size in area, all disclosure statements shall constitute at least five percent of the height of the material and shall be printed in contrasting color.

2. For video broadcasts including television, satellite and cable campaign communications, the information shall be both written and spoken either at the beginning or at the end of the communication, except that if the disclosure statement is written for at least five seconds of a broadcast of 30 seconds or less or 10 seconds of a 60-second broadcast, a spoken disclosure statement is not required. The written disclosure statement shall be of sufficient size to be readily legible to an average viewer and air for not less than four seconds.

3. For audio, telephone call or radio advertisement campaign communications, the disclosures shall be spoken in a clearly audible manner at the same speed and volume as the rest of the telephone call or radio advertisement at the beginning or end of the communication and shall last at least three seconds.

C. For purposes of this section, “campaign communication” means any of the following items:

1. More than 200 substantially similar pieces of campaign literature distributed within a calendar month, including but not limited to mailers, flyers, faxes, pamphlets, door hangers, e-mails, campaign buttons 10 inches in diameter or larger, and bumper stickers 60 square inches or larger;

2. Posters, yard or street signs, billboards, supergraphic signs and similar items;

3. Television, cable, satellite and radio broadcasts;

4. Newspaper, magazine, Internet website banners and similar advertisements;

5. Two hundred or more substantially similar live or recorded telephone calls made within a calendar month.