Abstract

THE POLITICS OF ETHICS AND ELECTIONS: CAN NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN ADVERTISING BE REGULATED IN FLORIDA?

CLEVELAND FERGUSON III
Copyright 1997 Florida State University Law Review

This Comment examines the negative campaign tactics that have been employed by Florida candidates, with particular emphasis on negative campaign advertising. Part II attempts to define negative advertising. Part III discusses the constitutional limitations on regulation of campaign advertising. Part IV examines the role that negative campaign advertising plays in Florida politics and reviews historical attempts to address negative campaign advertising through both legislative and nonlegislative means. Part V evaluates the success of legislation, enacted by Florida and other states, that attempts to regulate negative campaign advertising. Part VI analyzes the attempts of DOS and the Florida Legislature during the 1996 Regular Session to enact legislation aimed at curing the use of negative campaigning.

Part VII concludes that the First Amendment protects those politicians who engage in negative campaign tactics, while narrowly restricting those who truly remain committed to campaign reform. Part VII further concludes that DOS, as the state's chief regulatory agency for elections, needs to apply more pressure to the political leadership to challenge powerful lobbies and to make meaningful campaign reform a legislative priority. Finally, Part VII offers a challenge to Florida citizens to participate in cleaning up negative campaign tactics.


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