The Longmont city clerk on Friday denied complaints from a political advocacy group alleging that Google illegally suspended advertisements on its digital platforms.
City Clerk Dawn Quintana in an email to Our Best Longmont said Google did not violate the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act, nor was it guilty of election tampering.
Our Best Longmont has been running digital ads promoting its Yes on 3D campaign, including text search results and pre-roll video ads on YouTube, according to the complaint.
If passed by Longmont voters on Nov. 3, Ballot Question 3D would allow leases of city property for up to 30 years. Currently, city charter limits the maximum length of leases to 20 years.
Our Best Longmont on Thursday filed a complaint against Google after it learned its digital ad account had been suspended due to a random review, Our Best Longmont’s registered agent Shakeel Dalal stated in his complaint.
In her email to Dalal, Quintana stated the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act “is not restrictive regarding business practices related to election ads by issue committees nor does the city of Longmont have jurisdiction over the business practices of an entity such as Google, LLC in regards to the allegations in your complaint.”
Quintana also told Dalal the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act is restrictive in its reference to candidates and the rates they pay for political advertising. “Because Our Best Longmont is an issue committee and, in fact, there are no candidates related to this concern, it is my finding that no violation has occurred …,” Quintana said.
Dalal, in a letter emailed to Longmont City Council, said the city’s election law is “toothless.”
“I’m very disappointed that the city of Longmont has decided that entities which operate within its boundaries are outside of its regulatory authority,” Dalal stated in his email to council. “The next step will be for some enterprising ne'er do well to set up a smear campaign in a Longmont election that operates from outside the city but messages to city residents.
“I look forward to the next municipal election, which will certainly not be filled with any dirty tricks,” Dalal stated.
Google did not respond to requests for comment.
“Rather, the representative stated that these suspensions of ad accounts for review take place randomly and indiscriminately and that no additional information was sought from us nor was any recourse available to us,” Dalal stated.
Google’s conduct was grossly inappropriate and constitutes election tampering, Dalal stated in the complaint.
“It is completely inappropriate for an issue committee in full compliance of the law to lose the ability to conduct communications simply at the whim of an advertising company for no reason of any kind,” he stated.
“... This conduct would be completely unacceptable if a traditional media outlet did it, and it is unacceptable if a digital entity does it.”