Joshua Linney is running for mayor of Holmes Beach — and trying to boost his campaign with Facebook, PayPal.me and GoFundMe pages.
The efforts lack “paid by” or “approved by” disclaimers typically required of campaign advertising.
Linney’s GoFundMe page disclosed he received $100 of a $1,000 goal as of July 17.
And on Facebook, he posted he’d hit his $100-week goal heading into a third week, as well as his desire to raise the fee to attend the annual Florida League of Cities’ meeting in Hollywood, Florida. He announced the conference fee is $525 and stated: “Let the donations begin.”
Do Linney’s communications need the disclaimer? Are they proper or questionable?
According to Sarah Revel, state communications director, “Disclaimers are required on paid political advertisements.”
As far as specific situations such as Linney’s with back-end payments to GoFundMe and PayPal if contributions come in, she said:
“If you have specific questions about how the law applies to certain scenarios, I recommend seeking the opinion of an attorney,” she wrote in a July 19 email.
She pointed to exceptions for campaign messages if a political advertisement is no more than 200 characters on a paid link on a website that directs a user to another disclaimer-complying website.
Linney’s fundraising efforts could be skirting the law because there are no disclaimers on any of his websites, PayPal or GoFundMe pages, if he pays for the service through contributions.
Facebook posts are at no cost, unless boosted as ads.
As far as Linney’s hope to raise funds to attend the Florida League’s conference, the purpose is legitimate if it is a “expenditure intended to influence the results of an election” and not used to defray living expenses for himself or a family member, according to Revel.
The communications director also said there is no election law against mentioning “U.S. Army,” as Linney has done in certain ads. In some instances, he used an Army logo. However, she added, a person cannot legally misrepresent his military service.