From the archives: Campaign ad places hateful message on air; Candidate makes racially biased claims, and law says stations can't refuse to run his ad.
04/14/2014 11:13 AM
08/06/2014 10:53 AM
This story was originally published on March 29, 2010.
The program director of KMBZ radio in Kansas City says the station has no choice but to air commercials with racially biased and anti-Semitic claims from a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate from Missouri. The ads -- which began on the station last week -- are from Glenn Miller, a Springfield man who once ran the White Patriot Party. He’s been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., as a white supremacist and former paramilitary organizer.
One of Miller’s ads, aired during the Darla Jaye talk show program in the evening, urges whites to "take their country back" and disparages Jews and nonwhites.
The Missouri secretary of state’s office said Miller has filed required papers to qualify as a write-in candidate in the 2010 Senate race.
Under Federal Communications Commission rules and federal law, a "legally qualified candidate" must be given reasonable, uncensored access to broadcast airtime if he or she can pay the cost.
"The company is required by federal law to run these spots and to do so without any edits, " said KMBZ program director Neil Larrimore. "Our hands are tied."
Larrimore said Miller has purchased airtime on at least one other local station.
Miller did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The law center and the Jewish Community Relations Bureau in Kansas City declined to comment on the ads because, as nonprofit organizations, they are prohibited from opposing or endorsing candidates.
But Leonard Zeskind has written about Miller and others in his book "Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement From the Margins to the Mainstream."
"I think people have to stand up and say it’s wrong, " Zeskind said.
While Miller has filed required paperwork with the Missouri secretary of state, he has not filed with the Federal Election Commission and won’t have to unless he raises or spends $5,000 or more.
At that point, an FEC spokesman said, Miller must file a statement of candidacy and regular campaign finance disclosures. If he doesn’t, the spokesman said, he could face sanctions and penalties, although the FEC can’t force his ads off the air.
The ads indicate that they are paid for by the "Committee to Elect Write-In Candidate Glenn Miller to the U.S. Senate." There is no record of such a committee with the FEC, a spokeswoman said, and a search of the Missouri Ethics Commission’s Web site shows no such committee.
The station is running a disclaimer before the Miller ads, which is allowed under FCC rules, although the disclaimer cannot criticize or support the commercials.
And the station is not allowed to censor the message, legal experts said.
"We’ve dealt with situations where white supremacists have qualified for a place on the ballot in a congressional race and wanted to run racist ads -- and stations have had to allow it, " wrote David Oxenford on the Web site of a law firm specializing in broadcasting. "While this may seem like a bad outcome, it does make sure that stations cannot block unpopular viewpoints from being aired so that all points of view can be expressed by political candidates.
"Thus, while individual cases may result in ugly situations, the overall purpose of encouraging diverse political speech is achieved by the rules, " Oxenford wrote.
To reach Dave Helling, call 816-234-4656 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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