for 31 MAY 04: GOTCHA!
BLOGGER'S NOTE: Happy Memorial Day! This holiday post is a follow-up to the Bobby Peters campaign sign issue. We caught another candidate violating the advertising rules in 2002. Here's how we covered it in LaughLine that summer:
15 JUL 02: Today's deep question: if a big campaign sign doesn't have little type that's required by law, does that make the candidate a big cheater or a small one?
As candidates compete for Mayor of Columbus, Georgia, LaughLine has found one of them has an illegal campaign sign. Jed Harris's big downtown billboard lacks required words about who paid for it - you know, the words that if you slowed down to read them would cause a 12-car pileup.
The billboard above a downtown Columbus, Georgia viaduct says: "Elect Jed Harris Mayor - the people's choice." There's a huge photo of him, but NO wording required by law about who paid for the sign. He wasn't even sneaky enough to hide the words in a couple of underlined words.
The election laws in our town say all political advertising, even yard signs, must state who paid for them. If they don't, they're illegal. We suppose this rule is designed to teach would-be politicians the importance of "fine print."
We learned about this election law detail from a political wonk in our town, who loves to call radio talk shows. He's filed complaints in other campaigns, when the powers-that-be violated wording rules. He has NOT done this yet with Jed Harris -- so either he's voting for Harris, or he's lost his magnifying glass.
LaughLine stopped by the Jed Harris for Mayor campaign office Sunday to ask about the illegal billboard - but the office is closed on Sundays. A lot of businesses in our town work that way. Some people still think the "blue" in the U.S. flag is for blue laws.
Undaunted, LaughLine called Jed Harris at home Sunday afternoon and left a message. The voice on the answering machine was female - which leads us to ask: why don't more politicians have their wives work on their office staffs? Imagine how many paid positions could be cut from government budgets....
Jed Harris did NOT return our phone calls by Sunday night's post time. This former Georgia State Representative happens to sell insurance for a living - so you'd think he'd be willing to give The Mass Media a good quote.
16 JUL 02: As of Monday night, we still had NOT heard from Columbus, Georgia mayoral candidate Jed Harris about his illegal campaign billboard. Maybe he's like so many candidates these days - looking for donations in New York or California....
(No, Jed Harris probably would NOT be with President Bush in Birmingham. Harris is a Democrat - and unless he's holding a protest sign in the President's face, he doesn't want to be anywhere close.)
Still undaunted, LaughLine called the "Jed Harris for Mayor" campaign office. The man who answered the phone admitted he had NOT seen the billboard lacking the "paid for" details. He promised to check it for us -- but he hasn't called back, either. Is this a cover-up? Or is this poor constituent response a reason not to vote for this guy?
Many of the candidates for office in our town are gathering downtown tonight for a Jaycees event called "Political Palooza." In about five weeks, many of them will find the emphasis is on the "looza."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: If we must, LaughLine will go to Political Palooza and ask Jed Harris right to HIS "palooza" about his billboard....]
17 JUL 02: With our phone calls about an illegal campaign ad unreturned, LaughLine was left no choice. Tuesday night we came face-to-face with Columbus, Georgia mayoral candidate Jed Harris about his large billboard. We're thankful to report he's a nice politician - and didn't even threaten to punch us in the nose.
Jed Harris told LaughLine the art work for his campaign billboard was submitted correctly, WITH the "paid for by" line required by city law. He said the billboard company goofed, by leaving that line out. That company's fouled up OTHER signs lately, too - like leaving the last few letters off "Budweiser."
(Hmmmm - Jed Harris is a Democrat, but he's apparently not a Harry Truman "The Buck Stops HERE" Democrat.)
Jed Harris said he called Viacom's billboard division after LaughLine pointed out the missing line. The Atlanta office promised Harris it would be corrected Tuesday afternoon. We expected that answer, and drove by the billboard before the meeting. It's still NOT changed! How long does it take to prepare a couple of Post-It notes?
Jed Harris told LaughLine his campaign still owes Viacom 5,000 dollars for that large billboard. "I'm not paying a d**ned bit of it until that's fixed," he declared. We smell some political strategy here - called double or nothing.
(By the way, Jed Harris said he was out of town when LaughLine called him Sunday -- then became occupied with other things. We understand candidates CAN be busy people. But is his campaign staff too busy conducting polls or something?)
We found out during our short conversation with Jed Harris that he has a campaign web site - one NOT registered with Google. It's called "Elect Jed." [electjed.com] Isn't he asking for it with a name like that? Hackers will try to put up Beverly Hillbillies photos.
We found Jed Harris at the Columbus Jaycees' candidate forum, called "Political Palooza." Somehow an election event with that name doesn't sound quite right. You almost expect the candidates to put on boxing gloves for three rounds.
19 JUL 02: By the way, mayoral candidate Jed Harris's billboards DO now have an added line about who paid for them. But if you're going to jot down the address, PLEASE turn on your flashers or pull over - since let's face it: a lot of people don't vote and don't care.
COMING THIS WEEK: A new restaurant which is just asking for a lawsuit.... and a "restaurant" which may not really be....
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