The following page contains excerpts from the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook. For more information, you can view the entire handbook on the Secretary of State’s website.
- What is a Disclaimer?
- What are the Disclaimer Requirements?
- When is a Disclaimer Required?
What is a Disclaimer?
A disclaimer is the portion of a political message that identifies the name and address of the person or entity that paid for the item on which the disclaimer appears. A disclaimer must appear on almost everything that is created in an attempt to influence an election, including electronic messages. [R.C. 3517.105, 3517.20; OEC Adv. 96ELC-10]
Intent to Influence an Elections. An advertisement or item that might, even in part, be purchased with the intent of affecting a current or future election or to build or maintain name recognition must bear a disclaimer. Example includes items, such as high school basketball program ads or free items, distributed a public events. [OEC Adv. 89-04]
Any individual acting completely alone dows not need to place a disclaimer on a political communication that is issued. Candidates are not considered individuals for purposes of the disclaimer requirements and must include a disclaimer on all political communication unless the item is specifically exempted by rule or given an exemption by the Secretary of State.
What are the Disclaimer Requirements?
A proper disclaimer for a campaign committee is comprised of the name and residence or business address of the candidate, chairperson, treasurer, or secretary of the campaign committee. The name of the committee used in a disclaimer must always match the name of the committee on the most recently filed Designation of Treasurer.
Address. When an address is required, a street address must appear although a post office box may also be included [OEC Adv. 91-03].
Electronic Messages. Electronic messages posted on the Internet or sent via electronic mail are subject to the disclaimer requirement [OEC Adv. 96ELC-10].
False Statements. Statements or information that are not true may not be included within political communications. Further, candidates should not use wording that would lead a person to believe that the candidate is the incumbent or has been elected to the same office if that is not true. For example, only an incumbent or someone who has previously been elected to the office may use the word “re-elect”. Appointees may use words such as “retain” or “keep.” Others should use terms such as “vote,”“for” or “elect” in a manner that indicates that they are not the incumbent. [R.C. 3517.21]
Multi-piece Mailings. If more than one piece of printed material is mailed as a single packet, then only one of the pieces in the packet has to contain the disclaimer of the organization responsible for the communication [R.C. 3517.20(A)(10)].
Updating a Disclaimer. The Ohio Elections Commission has determined that when a committee uses campaign signs or other materials from a prior campaign, the information within a disclaimer must be current.
Permits and Placement. Some local ordinances or charters may require a permit to place signs within a political subdivision. The purchase of a sign permit is an ordinary and legitimate expenditure of the committee. Also, some local ordinances or charters may limit the placement of signs within a political subdivision.
When is a Disclaimer Required?
A sign, newspaper advertisement, literature or other political communication not listed in the “disclaimer exemptions” paragraph below, must include the name of the entity responsible, and the name and residence or business address of the candidate or chairperson, treasurer or secretary. [R.C. 3517.20]
Disclaimer Exemptions. Items that do not need disclaimer include:
- Badges or buttons
- Cups and mugs
- Emery boards
- Key tags
- Label pins, charms, tie tacks, rings, and other items of jewelry
- Letter openers
- Standard measuring rulers not more than twelve inches long
- Golf balls and golf tees
- Tee shirts, caps, hats and other articles of clothing
- Individually wrapped candy
- Magnets measuring two and one-half inches by three inches or less, or seven and one-half square inches or less, or three inches in diameter or less
- Stickers, labels, decals or any other printed material with an adhesive back measuring two and one-half inches by three inches or less, or seven and one-half square inches or less, or three inches in diameter or less.
For a complete list and explanation of items exempt from the disclaimer requirement, see OAC 111-5-19. [R.C. 3517.20(A)(12); OAC 111-5-19]
For more information on disclaimers view the Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook online at the Ohio Secretary of State’ website. For more information about Ohio’s Administrative Code visit http://codes.ohio.gov