NY Senate race raises issue of voluntary ban on TV and radio ads

NEW YORK: National public advocacy organizations started turning up the volume on their PR efforts last week, following an agreement signed by NY Senate candidates Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton to rid both campaigns of 'soft money' expenditures.

NEW YORK: National public advocacy organizations started turning up the volume on their PR efforts last week, following an agreement signed by NY Senate candidates Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton to rid both campaigns of 'soft money' expenditures.

NEW YORK: National public advocacy organizations started turning up the volume on their PR efforts last week, following an agreement signed by NY Senate candidates Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton to rid both campaigns of 'soft money' expenditures.

The ban asks organizations to participate in a voluntary ban from advertising on TV or radio, leaving PR as a prime means of getting messages out.

Rob Jaffe, Deputy Director of the New York National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARRLA), said that his group has already augmented PR and direct marketing activities. 'Phone banking efforts will be increased, we are heavily increasing mail to target voters, and we have a grass-roots component that distributes flyers door-to-door.'

But, most organizations, including Jaffe's, were deciding whether they would abide by the agreement. Said Ron Davis, spokesperson for the United Federation of Teachers, 'We are concerned that this agreement will stifle our voice when (voters) need it most. If other groups say no, then hell no, we're not going to abide by it.'

However, in the midst of the consternation over stifled voices, a more insidious concern may be getting lost: the public and media backlash that could hit the candidate whose supporters are first to break the ban. It is all but guaranteed that should the ban be broken, the opposing camp will lash back loudly. When asked about the possibility of Mrs. Clinton being more hindered than helped by his group's ads, Jaffe replied, 'If we felt our message would be buried under coverage about (the ban), we would have to weigh that in.'



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