WASHINGTON, D.C. — A K Street nonpartisan organization that considers itself “the lawyers for our democracy” has asked the FCC to review broadcast filings from the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), which has spent millions of dollars on advertisements urging U.S. senators to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, but allegedly did not provide the disclosure required under federal law.
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) argues that the ads “indisputably” meet a standard of the Communications Act that states broadcasters must disclose specific information about the source of advertisements when those ads air “a message relating to any political matter of national importance.”
JCN labeled its advertisements as non-political.
But, CLC doesn’t point fingers solely at JCN. It also says broadcasters are culpable, at least in part.
“Broadcasters have an obligation to ensure voters have relevant information about who is attempting to influence their views,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at the Campaign Legal Center. “By broadcasters accepting at face value Judicial Crisis Network’s claims that their ads did not pertain to any ‘political matter of national importance,’ the public was deprived of the important information that federal law and regulations require.”
CLC notes that ads that pertain to “a message relating to any political matter of national importance” are placed into a broadcaster’s political file, and the advertiser must report who is behind the ad and to list the executive board members, or highest-ranking officers, of the sponsoring group. If completed truthfully and fully, the online files should provide the public the information needed to accurately identify who is behind the ads.
CLC’s FCC petition comes as Senate Republicans on Wednesday made a rule-change that will allow a simple majority vote on the confirmation of Gorsuch to serve as a Supreme Court Judge. This bypasses a filibuster from Senate Democrats.