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Does this ad against a Mayoral candidate break the law? The city clerk’s office thinks so

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Colorado Springs voters are getting flooded by campaign advertisements ahead of April's election. They are coming in the mail, on TV, online, and now in text messages.

When it comes to all of these mediums, what exactly are the rules, and are they the same for every medium? The City Clerk's Office possibly didn't have that answer until Friday afternoon.

A mass text message sent out to voters this week accuses Mayoral candidate Sallie Clark of voting against same-sex couple benefits, being anti-abortion, and in red font, the message claims that Clark has Rep. Lauren Boebert's consultants advising her campaign.

The message isn't too far off from other messages being sent over the past few weeks but lacks a specific detail that all the others have: a disclaimer. If you attempt to call the number back, you'll get a busy signal.

Other messages have been sent out too, like this one, claiming to be from Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers. Is this the mayor texting you? Probably not.

But somewhere in those messages, there's a disclaimer saying who paid for the message. Some are labeled, "Paid for by Citizens For Protecting Our Water."

KRDO found that the texts are being sent out by Cole Communications founder, Daniel cole. The Republican political operative told us he's sent out quite a few messages this cycle.

Cole says it costs his business about 12 cents for every person they reach. Each time, he says he's sure to include a disclaimer or a link to one. He told KRDO the ad about Clark, without a disclaimer, was not sent by his business.

KRDO reached out to the Colorado Springs City Clerk's office Friday, who initially said it didn't know if required disclaimers applied to texts, and referred us to the county or the state for more clarification.

The Secretary of State's office told KRDO that Colorado Springs is a home-rule municipality, meaning if a campaign finance law is broken, it's up to the city to enforce it.

Our team showed the Clerk's Office section 5.2.203, of the city code: Candidate and committee funds reporting and disclosures.

Under Tab 'O', the code reads: A candidate or committee, or their agent, that publishes a communication in a newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising facility, any sign requiring a Large Sign Revocable Permit per the Planning Department, direct mailing, handbill, internet-based advertising, or broadcast through radio, television or other technologies, shall disclose in the communication the name of the committee or candidate making the expenditure. The disclosure shall be clear, legible, and conspicuous.

So does that apply to text messages? A representative for the City Clerk told KRDO late Friday afternoon that yes, it does apply to texts. The clerk said texts could be interpreted as ‘other technologies’, which would make the message about Clark illegal.

The city says no complaint has been filed about the message yet, so an investigation has not been triggered. However, the question still remains: who sent it?

Clark declined to comment on the attack ad, saying that she is more focused on positive messaging. Clark, though, does have an attack ad currently running.

Article Topic Follows: Politics

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Spencer Soicher

Spencer is the weekend evening anchor, and a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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