Chicago Goes After Use of Government Property in Political Ads

March 2023

The Chicago Board of Ethics took up an unprecedented number of enforcement matters at last month’s meeting addressing potential violations of the City’s prohibition on use of city property in campaign advertisements. The Board issued “intent to find probable cause” notices to eight candidates alleging misuse of City intellectual and other property in electioneering communications. The matters involve use of the City’s seal and, according to reports, images of Chicago officials in uniform.

The use of government logos in political advertisements is often prohibited. For example, at the federal level, use of the Presidential or Vice Presidential seals, as well as the seals of the Senate, House of Representatives, and Congress are prohibited.

Improper use of government imagery is only one of a myriad of issues to watch out for when running political advertisements. Attorneys in Wiley’s Election Law & Government Ethics group routinely provide guidance related to the do’s and don’ts of political advertising.

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