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Election Code - CHAPTER 255

CHAPTER 255. REGULATING POLITICAL ADVERTISING AND CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS

255.001. Required Disclosure on Political Advertising

     (a) A person may not knowingly enter into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising that does not indicate in the advertising:

     (1) that it is political advertising;

     (2) the full name of either the individual who personally entered into the contract or agreement with the printer, publisher, or broadcaster or the person that individual represents; and

     (3) in the case of advertising that is printed or published, the address of either the individual who personally entered into the agreement with the printer or publisher or the person that individual represents.

     (b) This section does not apply to tickets or invitations to political fund-raising events or to campaign buttons, pins, hats, or similar campaign materials.

     (c) A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

255.002. Rates for Political Advertising

     (a) The rate charged for political advertising by a radio or television station may not exceed:

     (1) during the 45 days preceding a general or runoff primary election and during the 60 days preceding a general or special election, the broadcaster's lowest unit charge for advertising of the same class, for the same time, and for the same period; or

     (2) at any time other than that specified by Subdivision (1), the amount charged other users for comparable use of the station.

     (b) 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.

     (c) 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.

     (d) Discounts offered by a newspaper or magazine to its commercial advertisers shall be offered on equal terms to purchasers of political advertising from the newspaper or magazine.

     (e) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly demands or receives or knowingly pays or offers to pay for political advertising more consideration than permitted by this section.

     (f) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

255.003. Unlawful Use of Public Funds for Political Advertising

     (a) An officer or employee of a political subdivision may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.

     (b) This section does not apply to a communication that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.

     (c) A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

255.004. True Source of Communication

     (a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person enters into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising that purports to emanate from a source other than its true source.

     (b) A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person knowingly represents in a campaign communication that the communication emanates from a source other than its true source.

     (c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

255.005. Misrepresentation of Identity

     (a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to injure a candidate or influence the result of an election, the person misrepresents the person's identity or, if acting or purporting to act as an agent, misrepresents the identity of the agent's principal, in political advertising or a campaign communication.

     (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, 249, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

255.006. Misleading Use of Office Title

     (a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly enters into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising with the intent to represent to an ordinary and prudent person that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the agreement is made.

     (b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly represents in a campaign communication that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the representation is made.

     (c) For purposes of this section, a person represents that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold if:

     (1) the candidate does not hold the office that the candidate seeks; and

     (2) the political advertising or campaign communication states the public office sought but does not include the word "for" in a type size that is at least one-half the type size used for the name of the office to clarify that the candidate does not hold that office.

     (d) A person other than an officeholder commits an offense if the person knowingly uses a representation of the state seal in political advertising.

     (e) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 300, 30, eff. Aug. 30, 1993; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, 250, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, 5.17, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 737, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999.

255.007. Notice Requirement on Political Advertising Signs

     (a) The following notice must be written on each political advertising sign:

     "NOTICE: IT IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW (CHAPTERS 392 AND 393, TRANSPORTATION CODE), TO PLACE THIS SIGN IN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF A HIGHWAY."

     (b) A person commits an offense if the person:

     (1) knowingly enters into a contract to print or make a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a); or

     (2) instructs another person to place a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a).

     (c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

     (d) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that the political advertising sign was printed or made before September 1, 1997, and complied with Subsection (a) as it existed immediately before that date.

     (e) In this section, "political advertising sign" means a written form of political advertising designed to be seen from a road but does not include a bumper sticker.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 288, 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1349, 71, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

255.008. Disclosure on Political Advertising for Judicial Office

     (a) This section applies only to a candidate or political committee covered by Subchapter F, Chapter 253.

     (b) Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to comply with the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate may include the following statement: "Political advertising paid for by (name of candidate or committee) in compliance with the voluntary limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act."

     (c) Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to comply with the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate that does not contain the statement prescribed by Subsection (b) must comply with Section 255.001.

     (d) Political advertising by a candidate who files a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate must include the following statement: "Political advertising paid for by (name of candidate or committee), (who or which) has rejected the voluntary limits of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act."

     (e) The commission shall adopt rules providing for:

     (1) the minimum size of the disclosure required by this section in political advertising that appears on television or in writing; and

     (2) the minimum duration of the disclosure required by this section in political advertising that appears on television or radio.

     (f) A person who violates this section or a rule adopted under this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed:

     (1) $15,000, for a candidate for a statewide judicial office or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate;

     (2) $10,000, for a candidate for chief justice or justice, court of appeals, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate; or

     (3) $5,000, for a candidate for any other judicial office covered by Subchapter F, Chapter 253, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate.

     (g) Section 253.176 applies to the imposition and disposition of a civil penalty under this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.

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