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Washington Notes: Are plumbing company ads electioneering?

by Chris Casteel Published: May 13, 2012

Are plumbing company ads electioneering?

Do Markwayne Mullin's commercials for his plumbing company also promote his candidacy for Congress in eastern Oklahoma? If so, would the customers who spend more than $1,000 on plumbing service have to be named publicly as contributors?

Mullin, a Republican running for the 2nd District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Dan Boren, has asked the Federal Election Commission for an opinion before regulations on “electioneering communications” kick in a month before Oklahoma's June 26 primary.

Mullin has for years appeared in television and radio ads for his plumbing company, and he pays for a weekly radio show to talk about home improvement.

According to Mullin's request to the FEC, the commission has not given a blanket exemption to campaign finance laws for business advertisements that mention the name of a federal candidate.

Moreover, a federal judge ruled recently that all contributors who give $1,000 or more to sponsor electioneering ads must be publicly disclosed.

But Mullin's attorneys argue that the FEC should find that Mullin's ads and radio show “are not electioneering communications because the advertisements are wholly unrelated to the campaign. The advertisements do not discuss issues, candidates or the election.”

If the FEC considers them election-related, they should at least exempt the customers from public disclosure, the attorneys argue.

Mullin, of Westville, is one of six Republicans running for Boren's seat.

There are three Democrats vying for the nomination.

Lankford criticizes White House rule

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, was among the conservatives who reacted strongly last week to a report that the U.S. Secret Service required pregnant women to list their unborn children when seeking visitor passes for the White House.

Lankford said the White House “inadvertently shed light on a matter of hypocrisy that is truly the difference between life and death.”

“I am surprised at the audacity of the White House to consider unborn children necessary of security information in order for the mother to tour the White House while unborn children do not have the same consideration at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue or anywhere else in D.C.”

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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