Several political signs called into question last week for not meeting state advertising standards have all been brought into compliance.
Questions were raised over some candidates seeking municipal office in Killeen violating state and city political campaign mandates because the signs did not include disclosure statements.
An unpaid ad appeared on the reader-board of D&D Plaza, a private business on Stan Schlueter Loop, endorsing mayoral candidate Scott Cosper and City Council at-large candidate Gary “Bubba” Purser Jr.
Chuck Davis, who had the endorsement put on the sign at D&D Plaza, said had he known that a disclosure statement was necessary, he would have added one to his endorsement of the candidates. Because it wasn’t a paid ad, he wasn’t aware the statement was needed.
“(The sign) is on private property, it’s a private sign and it’s called freedom of speech last time I checked,” Davis said.
“If the sign is a privately-owned sign, I have the ability to say and do whatever I want to do.”
Davis said he put the endorsement on the sign because Cosper and Purser are “personal friends.” “I checked everything to do with the city ordinance; my sign is a sign that was put up with a permit. It’s a 100 percent legal sign. I had no idea (it had) anything to do with the Texas Ethics (Commission).”
The signs at D&D Plaza have since been removed from the marquee.
Natalia Ashley, interim executive director for the ethics commission, said she can’t make a determination regarding a specific instance being in violation, but the law reads that no person can knowingly publish, distribute or broadcast a political ad without a disclosure statement. “There is nothing exempting an ad that was not paid (for) by a candidate.”
Mayoral candidate Harold “Hal” Butchart, who has a paid digital ad at the corner of W.S. Young Drive and Business Highway 190, has since added a disclosure statement to his advertisement.
Councilman Jonathan Okray, who has a digital political sign on W.S. Young Drive near the intersection of Central Texas Expressway, has a disclosure statement included in his ad.
Disclosures are required to include the words “political advertising” or a recognizable abbreviation, the person who paid for the ad, the political committee authorizing the ad or the candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate. The state mandate states ads using the words “vote for” constitute “express advocacy,” which requires a disclosure.