I thought this may be something from the Onion until I found the text of the bill online at the Iowa General Assembly Web site. A Republican and a Democrat in the House teamed up to put a bill together ensuring campaign literature would not include caricatures of the target candidate.
But that’s not all. Iowa representatives Richard Anderson (R) and Mary Mascher (D) introduced HF 229, an act “prohibiting the distribution of campaign material without the consent of the candidate benefiting from that material, restricting the content of certain types of campaign material, and providing remedies and a penalty”.
In a nutshell, from Section 1…
The general assembly declares that a compelling state interest exists in regulating the generation or distribution of campaign material that has not been approved by the candidate who would benefit from that campaign material, in order to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the electoral process.
What this means is that political action committees or other groups – like the National Rifle Association or the National Education Association – can not release advertising that “attacks” a candidate without prior written authorization from the candidate (or candidates?) who would benefit from such advertising.
Benefit? What are they kidding? What if the public learns something new about a candidate? Here is some additional text from the proposed bill.
- A person shall not distribute any campaign material concerning a target candidate with the intent to encourage the recipient of that campaign material to vote against that target candidate, without first … obtaining, in writing, the prior consent of the beneficiary candidate to the distribution of the campaign material.
- A person shall not distribute any campaign material that contains a cartoon, caricature, or defacement of the personal likeness of a target candidate.
- A person shall not distribute any campaign material that contains photographs or other depictions of human role playing, except of a candidate who has approved the campaign material.
- A person shall not distribute any campaign material regarding a vote cast by a target candidate who is a member of a house of the general assembly if a majority of the membership of the house of which the target candidate is a member voted in the same manner as the target candidate and if the majority of those members of that house of the general assembly who are affiliated with the political party which is not the party of the target candidate voted in the same manner as the target candidate.
- Campaign material that refers to a prior vote cast by a target candidate on an issue must disclose all of the following:
a. The total votes cast for and against the issue.
b. The total votes cast on the issue by members of each political party of the membership of the legislative chamber of which the target candidate is a member.
The penalty – if the attacked candidate complains – would be a civil fine of no more than $2,000.
The bill will not pass Constitutional muster, but why do these representatives spend time putting this crap legislation together? What kind of effort goes into producing a bill that has no chance at all to make it out of a committee?