Did Pro-Duane Sand Ad Break House Rules?


The Veterans for a Strong America Action Group made a small $40,000 television ad buy in North Daota to attack Rep. Rick Berg on behalf of his Senate primary challenger Duane Sand, but according to National Journal the ad may have broken House rules:

The AP reports that the Veterans for a Strong America Action Group super PAC purchased $40,000 worth of air time to air a commercial beginning on May 18 that uses Berg’s own words against him. It interlaces a speech he gave on the House floor decrying the national debt with the fact that he voted for raising the debt ceiling.

However, the House has rules against using its footage in political ads. According to House Rule V of Sec. 684, “Broadcasting of House proceedings”, “Coverage made available under this clause, including any recording thereof– (1) may not be used for any political purpose; (2) may not be used in any commercial advertisement; and (3) may not be broadcast with commercial sponsorship except as part of a bona fide news program or public affairs documentary program.”

Embarrassing for Sand and this super PAC I guess, but this seems like a dumb and perhaps even unconstitutional rule.

We really can’t use video/audio of things members of House actually say on the floor of the house in political advertising? I can’t imagine that such a rule would survive a court challenge on 1st amendment grounds.

If Berg were smart, he’d come out and say that he’s happy for any group to use anything he’s ever said whether they’re being critical or complimentary.

Here’s the ad, if you hadn’t seen it (and you probably didn’t given the tiny ad buy):

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Jay

    I haveto agree with you, Rob. Members of Congress shouldn’t be exempt from having their on-floor words used for or against them in political ads.

    • http://Sayanythingblog.com The Whistler

       The fact that there is such a rule, probably in place well before Berg, is just part of what’s wrong with Washington. 

      • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

        I agree.  I don’t blame Berg for the existence of the rule, which I’m sure pre-dates him, but it’s still a dumb rule.

  • borborygmi

    I agree with Rob.  That is a stupid rule.  The minutes are public domain.  This is just video minutes.

  • headward

    What kind of penalty or action can the House take?  This super PAC isn’t a member of the house.

  • Jimmyop

    what a SMART rule….if you’re a congress critter. how dare you use what i said against me!

  • Guest

    How about this from the North Dakota CONSTITUTION: 

    Article IV, Section 15: “Members of the legislative assembly may not be questioned in any other place for any words used in any speech or debate in legislative proceedings.”  

    According to the state constitution, it’s illegal for me to ask a legislator a question he or she said on an issue.  Wow.

    • Guest

      Oops, I meant “a question on anything he or she said…”

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I’d like to see them enforce it.

  • Ariana

    Hotline has retracted the headline and changed their tune – they know they messed up.  This story could have been pushed by the Berg folks and now it blew up in their face.