For the second year in a row, we're getting questions from viewers about the Colorado Treasurer's "Great Colorado Payback" ad.
The questions aren't about how to get your unclaimed money, but more along the lines of, why is the Treasurer allowed to advertise like that while running for Governor.
First, in full transparency, the 9NEWS news department and the 9NEWS sales department are two separate entities.
I had to go to our General Manager for some answers about the ad buy, as well as the Treasurer's office itself.
In 2017, the same ad ran a similar number of times on 9News and KTVD-Channel 20 over a longer period:
- 2017: Mar. 20 - Apr. 14: 130 times
- 2018: Mar. 14 - Apr. 1: 133 times
But since Stapleton is a candidate for Governor, that triggers some requirements by the Federal Communications Commission.
If Stapleton is considered a "legally qualified candidate, the FCC requires "equal opportunity" for other candidates.
The 9NEWS letter states:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
Walker Stapleton appeared in a paid ad for Great Colorado Payback airing 3/14 – 4/1/18 (72 :30- second commercials on KUSA and 61 :30 commercials on KTVD). Any equal opportunity requests for Republican gubernatorial candidates should be directed to 9NEWS SALES at 303- 871-1763.
National Sales Manager
As of Monday afternoon, no other television station in Denver had posted an "equal opportunity" notice in their public political files.
Is it even necessary?
According to the FCC, no one investigates for something like this unless they received a complaint. And if they do, the punishment, if any, could range from a stern warning to a fine to a revoked license, which would be quite extreme.
Is Stapleton a "legally qualified candidate?"
Based on the FCC, no.
The state of Colorado says yes.
FCC requires the candidate to be on the ballot to be considered "legally qualified."
Stapleton is not yet on the ballot in Colorado because the Secretary of State has not certified that he turned in enough signatures with his petitions last month to qualify for the ballot.
According to the state, a candidate is official after they publicly announce and either receive a campaign contribution or spend money in support of that candidacy.
Either way, 9NEWS has put the letter in our file (cough, hint to you other TV stations, cough).
In response to the questions we've been getting about the ad, the treasurer's spokeswoman said, " "Getting the word out about The Great Colorado Payback is about fulfilling his duties as Treasurer of Colorado. We do this every year around springtime, and this year Walker also happens to be running for governor," said Rachel George, spokeswoman for the treasurer's office.