Opponents say Coleman broke ad disclosure rules

Sen. Norm Coleman
Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman has corrected a TV ad which did not meet federal disclosure requirements, because the candidate approval statement did not last a full four seconds.
MPR Photo/Tom Scheck

The dustup, which Coleman's opponents hope will cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars, grew from this simple statement at the end of a new Coleman campaign ad.

"I'm Norm Coleman and I approve this message."

That disclosure clip featuring Coleman's picture runs for a little less than three seconds. Under federal law, those disclosure statements must last at least a full four seconds.

2008 Democratic National Convention: Day 1
Al Franken, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota, says Coleman should be stripped of special reduced ad rates for the rest of the campaign because of the violation.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The law says failing to meet the disclosure requirement strips a candidate of special reduced ad rates for the rest of the campaign.

DFL Senate candidate Al Franken says Coleman can be forgiven for making the mistake. But Franken says Coleman should suffer the consequences of failing to meet the four-second requirement.

"People make mistakes, and the point is to own your mistake and then pay your consequences," said Franken. "And I'm sure that's what the Coleman campaign will do."

An attorney for the Franken campaign sent letters to television stations pointing out the violation, and saying that Coleman has forfeited his rights to reduced ad rates.

A spokesman for Independence Party Senate candidate Dean Barkley says Barkley agrees with Franken that Coleman should lose the right to the cheaper ad rates.

Coleman says the roughly one-second discrepancy, which has now been corrected, is not the big deal his opponents are trying to make it.

"It's really a non-issue. It's really clear who the commercial is from," said Coleman. "We're not getting any feedback from any TV stations or anything or from anybody else. That's simply one of the nitty gritty of politics with somebody saying, 'Oh look, it should have four seconds instead of two-point-five.' But the law is -- the intent is pretty clear."

A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission said the commission reviews all complaints, but declined to comment on the status of any specific complaint.