An FCC source confirmed that it advised Missouri broadcasters that it “would not be unreasonable” for them to find that a white supremacist write-in senatorial candidate from Missouri was not a bona fide candidate and did not qualify for mandatory airtime under FCC rules.
The candidate in question, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., wanted to buy radio time for campaign ads in the state.
Stations have to make commercial airtime available to bona fide candidates, but after Missouri broadcasters (and the state Attorney General) sought a declaratory ruling that he was not a candidate and would not qualify for airtime, the FCC provided the corroborating advice informally, which sometimes happens with political ad questions because time is usually of the essence. In this case the election is not until next month, but sometimes it can be a matter of weeks or even days between airtime requests and elections.
The FCC based that advice in part on evidence that Miller’s senatorial campaign efforts were not statewide, given a past FCC decision that candidates needed to demonstrate a presence throughout the state.
“Based on what he was saying [in response to the Missouri petition], not on anything we surmised, it looked to us like his activities were isolated to a very small part of the state,” said the source, who said the FCC also considered the fact that Miller would not identify the locations of campaign headquarters beyond his basement, or any other individuals involved in those headquarters.
Being on a ballot establishes candidates as bona fides, but for write-in candidates, the FCC requires an additional showing of a legitimate statewide campaign. There is no boilerplate list, but campaign headquarters, handing out literature, news releases and speeches would all be indications, as would a statewide effort.