SALT LAKE CITY — Vince Rampton, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, raised concerns Wednesday about public service announcements featuring Gov. Gary Herbert and Lt. Gov. Greg Bell.
Rampton thanked Utah broadcasters, including KSL, for agreeing to provide the campaign with an equal opportunity to air commercials under the Federal Communication Commission's political broadcasting rules.
"We've had wonderful response from all the stations we've talked to," Rampton said during an afternoon press conference, promising the campaign "will accept every offer we can possibly afford."
Rampton said he did not know yet how much time was being made available to the campaign, nor did he know how much of the time would have to be paid for and how much would be provided at no cost.
Under FCC rules intended to offer candidates equal access to the airwaves, he said the campaign will get the opportunity to buy the same amount of airtime, or in the instances when the announcements were aired at no cost, free airtime.
Rampton said while he was not accusing the administration of wrongdoing, voters "have a right to have a beef" with using tax dollars to broadcast the announcements, which included information on disposing of old prescription drugs.
"It is an advantage of incumbency," Rampton said. "Always has been. That's just part of the system. All we can do is point it out and say, 'Isn't this odd? Isn't this fishy?' It's legal. But we want the voters to be aware of it."
Jennifer Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Department of Commerce, said the announcement dealing with disposing of prescriptions was produced and aired using about $60,000 from a legal settlement with a drug manufacturer.
"It did not have anything to do with the campaign. It in no way referred to it," Bolton said of the spot, which aired for about a week in advance of Sept. 29, the day set aside to turn in prescriptions. "We asked the governor to participate in it in his role as governor."
Ally Isom, Gov. Herbert's deputy chief of staff, said Herbert often is ask to support worthy causes in his role as governor.
"It is silly to assert that public service announcements could be mistaken for campaign ads," Isom said. "These announcements were produced solely to promote public safety and advanced no political agenda."