Don’t miss the April general meeting! Monday, April 2, 2018. Guest speaker: MWRW member, Mary Sergesketter, and the topic is “The Influencers, the Candidates and the Voters….a discussion about the slates in Harris County.” This is a program you will not see anywhere else!
10:30 A.M. Social, 11:00 A.M. Program, 12:00 P.M. Lunch (optional). Please make your reservation for lunch by Thursday, March 29th via email.
Ninfa’s on Memorial. 14737 Memorial Dr, Houston, TX 77079 (click the link for directions)
This should be a very interesting meeting and might even get me out of hibernation to be there. Mary has been around the HCRP for a long time and will be able to discuss the various slates intimately. I’ll be interested to hear her thoughts on using the slate mechanism to get better candidates on the whole, instead of having a November candidate slate full of holes because of niche issues.
And speaking of slates, there is a small one called Katy Christian Magazine whose publisher doesn’t understand the law regarding political advertising. As you know, political advertising is highly regulated by the State of Texas. Here are the specific laws taken directly from a Texas Ethics Commission ruling against another local slate in 2011:
- “Political advertising” is defined, in relevant part, as a communication supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to a public office that in return for consideration, is published in a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical. ELEC. CODE § 251.001(16).
- The rate charged for political advertising that is printed or published may not exceed the lowest charge made for comparable use of the space for any other purposes. ELEC. CODE 255.002(b).
- In determining amounts charged for comparable use, the amount and kind of space or time used, number of times used, frequency of use, type of advertising copy submitted, and any other relevant factors shall be considered. ELEC. CODE 255.002(c).
- The documents at issue supported the election of candidates to public office. Therefore, they are political advertising. The evidence indicated that two candidates for public office purchased the same amount of advertisement space from the respondent. However, the candidates were charged rates differing by $5,000 for the same amount of space. Therefore, there is credible evidence of a violation of section 255.002(b) of the Election Code.
That ruling resulted in a $500 fine to the slate’s publisher.
In the Katy Christian Magazine case, Judge Jay Karahan paid $1,200 for a one-half page ad in the February / March 2018 issue of the magazine. The same issue also contained a one-half page ad for Judge Karahan’s opponent Dan Simons. After reviewing Mr. Simons’ campaign finance reports, Judge Karahan saw that Mr. Simons only paid $400 for his comparable use ad.
Judge Karahan inquired about this discrepancy via email to Joseph Menslage, President/Publisher of Katy Christian Magazine. Mr. Menslage responded thusly:
The reason why Mr. Simons got a better deal is because he negotiated with us on the pricing. As a business owner, we do have the right to negotiate.
Of course businesses have the right to negotiate. But the law says that Mr. Menslage must charge candidates the lowest charge made for comparable use of the space.
I have nothing against this particular slate (other than the “Christian” branding) but I hope that Judge Karahan files a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission so that Mr. Menslage will have a better understanding of the law and his responsibilities when accepting payment for advertising. There are other examples of this practice in the same and previous issues of the slate.
Perhaps Mary Sergesketter will address this problem in her talk about the slates.