Letter to the editor: Time has come for FCC to enforce disclosure

Letter to the editor: Time has come for FCC to enforce disclosure

Common Cause member Launa Zimmaro published the below letter to the editor in the Carlisle Mosquito on Common Cause’s Entitled to Know campaign urging the FCC to enforce disclosure of political advertising.

To the Editor: Time has come for disclosure law.

Recent Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United v FEC and McCutcheon v FEC allow ever more money from anonymous sources to flow into our political system with virtually no limit. Studies and polls reflect growing public concern across the political spectrum about the influence of money in politics.

As an antidote to the flood of cash, the Supreme Court has offered disclosure, but with Congress tied in knots on nearly every political issue, it is highly unlikely that pending Disclosure legislation will pass.

The good news is Section 317 of the Communications Act (47 U.S.C. 317) which requires on-air identification of the sponsors of all advertisements, political as well as commercial. A simple rules update could ensure FCC disclosure requirements meet the current political reality so that voters have complete, real-time information about who is responsible for political advertisements. A rule-making petition to do this is already pending.

Following the FCC’s normal notice-and-comment process, passing these updates through the five-member board needn’t take more than 90 days, the blink of an eye in gridlocked Washington. It is high time for the FCC to pass these modest updates to their rules to ensure that sponsorship identification in political advertising is made based on who is paying for the messages that voters are seeing.

With midterm elections just months away and campaigns already in full swing, the issue of who is paying to influence American voters is a crucial one. As the FCC has previously said, “Listeners are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded.” The FCC has the power to require that information to be made public, and they have no excuse for not doing so. You can urge the FCC to enforce its own rule by signing the citizens’ petition on the Common Cause site.

Launa Zimmaro

Lowell Street