Earlier this month, Greensboro attorney Marshall Hurley filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections in which he alleged that giving free air time to the five major gubernatorial candidates amounts to corporate campaign contributions. This complaint, if deemed worthy, would have serious implications for all the traditional media and the internet:
- Most television and radio stations have political leanings, which are reflected in the news segments, interviews and forums that go out over the air. All the news, interviews and forums pertaining to political elections would need to be analyzed in order to ascertain the amount of corporate campaign contributions to be filed with the SBOE.
- Most newspapers and magazines have political leanings, which are reflected in the articles and interviews printed. The articles and interviews pertaining to political elections would need to be analyzed to ascertain the amounts of corporate campaign contributions to be filed.
- Radio and television talk shows not only talk about candidates, they invite candidates to make guest appearances. How much should talk shows and their parent stations file in corporate campaign contributions?
- The World Wide Web has numerous news and commentary sites. What about corporate campaign contributions based on internet articles and interviews ? And what if someone in Tanzania or Equador were responsible for the website - how could the corporate campaign contribution ruling be enforced?
- Finally who would be willing to fund a whole new government department just to keep track of all the news segments, articles, interviews, etc. and determine the amount of corporate campaign contributions that should be filed with the SBOE?
The "unintended consequences" of this complaint would be overwhelming if the complaint were successful. Hopefully, good sense will prevail! There is a need for ALL broadcasting companies to offer free air time to candidates for public office, so that individual stations can't be singled out when they offer free time to candidates, regardless of party affiliation.