The purpose of the public service announcement ("PSA") regulations is to promote the use of PSAs while discouraging their use as campaign tools for elective office.
What is considered a PSA?
Generally, a public service announcement is a message that promotes programs, activities, or services of nonprofit organizations or government agencies, or imparts information generally regarded as serving the public interest. Part 940 identifies specific criteria to qualify as a PSA. A communication that qualifies as a PSA is not a gift.
Examples of public service announcements include, but are not limited to, communications regarding nonprofit or governmental outreach or awareness activities such as: breast cancer screening; heart disease prevention; domestic violence awareness and prevention; energy conservation; organ donation; emergency or other disaster relief; programs designed to encourage reading; job training and job fairs; and fund drives for charitable activities.
Who is covered under the regulations?
- Lieutenant Governor;
- Attorney General;
- Any elected member of the New York State Legislature; or
- Any head and/or executive director of a State agency.
What are the restrictions?
The regulations prohibit certain State officials from appearing in a public service announcement within 90 days of any election (primary, general, special, etc.) in which they are a candidate.
Public service announcements are carefully defined in the regulations and do not include communications such as:
- political advertisements;
- electioneering communications;
- letters to the editor;
- social media postings (e.g., Twitter, Facebook);
- personal communications;
- State agency websites and websites of members of the Legislature.
Any covered official who knowingly and intentionally appears in a public service announcement within 90 days of an election in which he or she is a candidate will have violated Public Officers Law § 74(3)(d), which has a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 and the value of the benefit received.
Contact The JCOPE Attorney of the Day
The Commission administers an "Attorney of the Day" program to help provide State officials and employees, lobbyists, and clients of lobbyists with free, confidential advice, both formal and informal, on navigating the State's ethics and lobbying laws.