Formal Ethics Complaint Filed Against COMCAST and SF Realtors Association for Airing False Ads

October 14, 2008 — District 3 Board of Supervisors candidate David Chiu today filed a formal complaint with the San Francisco Ethics Commission against COMCAST and the San Francisco Association of Realtors for cable television advertisements that began broadcasting yesterday which falsely claim that Chiu supports the decriminalization of prostitution.

The complaint states that the television ad violates Section 1.163.5 of the SF Campaign and Government Conduct Code, which strictly prohibits the distribution of campaign ads that contain false endorsements.

“It is outrageous that COMCAST and the Association of Realtors are continuing to violate San Francisco’s Ethics laws by broadcasting this blatantly false TV ad,” said David Chiu, who filed his complaint at the office of the S.F Ethics Commission earlier today.  “I call on the Ethics Commission to immediately investigate this illegal activity and to sanction COMCAST and the Association of Realtors for violating San Francisco’s Ethics laws.”

Section 1.163.5 of the San Francisco Campaign and Government Conduct Code prohibits the “Distribution of Campaign Advertisements Containing False Endorsements.”  The Code specifies that: “No person may sponsor any campaign advertisement that is distributed within 90 days prior to an election and that contains a false endorsement, where the person acts with knowledge of the falsity of the endorsement or with reckless disregard for the truth or falsity of the endorsement. 

The code continues on to say that “a false endorsement is a statement, signature, photograph, or image representing that a person expressly endorses or conveys support for or opposition to a candidate or measure when in fact the person does not expressly endorse or convey support for or opposition to the candidate or measure as stated or implied in the campaign communication.”

On or about Monday, October 13, 2008, COMCAST Bay Area began airing cable television commercials paid for by the San Francisco Association of Realtors that falsely states that David Chiu is in favor of the “decriminalization of prostitution.”  

Chiu is a former criminal prosecutor who publicly announced his opposition to the measure on San Francisco’s November 2008 ballot that would decriminalize prostitution, Proposition K, at a public meeting of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee on August 13, 2008 that was widely reported in the media.  He is also listed on the No on Prop K website as an opponent of the measure.

“These false ads are particularly outrageous because I am a former prosecutor, neighborhood leader and community court Judge-Arbitrator who has fought for years to reduce the crime in our neighborhoods,” said Chiu.  “COMCAST and the Realtors Association are not above the law and must be held fully accountable for violating ethics laws designed to stop exactly these kinds of false ads.”