The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002, also known as the McCain-Feingold Act, includes a provision where political candidates, running for public office at the federal level, must identify their own political advertisements with the phrase, “I approve this message.” This idea was intended to discourage candidates from running negative ads on television or radio. However, when ads are produced and aired by outside organizations, such as interest groups or political parties, they acknowledge that their ads are not affiliated with any candidates or campaign committees. In effect, the interest group or political party is letting the audience know that the ads are independent of any candidate. Candidates for state office are not required to have an “approval” message included in their ads.
Does it matter to you if an ad is run by a candidate or by an outside political organization? Did you even know there was a difference between the two?