JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Two Republicans on Tuesday touted a parallel push – one here at the state capital and another in the nation’s capitol – to require the government to say who is paying government advertisements.
“We’re both working on similar issues,” said state Representative Paul Curtman, R-St. Louis. He was joined Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, whose proposal would apply to federal agencies.
The measures would require agencies to note if their advertisements – whether be a print, radio or internet commercial – was paid for with public resources. The disclosure could appear similarly to the disclosures are currently shown in political ads.
“You’re right in assuming who produced the ad,” Blunt said in response to a question about the obviousness of the genesis of an ad promoting a government program. The problem, he said, is it is not clear how ads are paid for, or if they even are, Blunt said.
Recently, the issue has drawn controversy after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to purchase pricey ad time during the 2015 Super Bowl.
Blunt said he is not against government commercials. But, he said he wants to have more information on whether and how much the government is spending on them.
“I’m not against them spending money on ads,” Blunt said. “I’m against him spending money and not saying it.”
Blunt’s decision to dip his toe in state legislative policy – even in a show of support – is rare. In fact, when he was asked on the same day about potential changes to the state’s ethics laws (changes supported by a potential Democratic opponent in 2016, Secretary of State Jason Kander), Blunt sidestepped.
“We have pretty tight controls in Washington,” he said. “I did work in this building as secretary of state. I loved being here. I said when I went to Washington I wasn’t going to give advice to people in Jefferson City until we solved the problems there, and so far that has served me pretty well. I have no advice to give.”