False political advertising defined
It is illegal to sponsor a political ad, with actual malice, that contains a statement constituting libel or defamation per se* if the statement:
- directly or indirectly implies a candidate has the support or endorsement of any person or organization when the candidate does not (unless the statement is made by the person or organization),
- is a false statement of material fact about a candidate,** or
- falsely represents that a candidate is an incumbent.
*See RCW 42.17A.335(2) for a definition of libel and defamation per se.
**Unless a candidate is making a statement about him or herself or the statement is made by the candidate's agent about the candidate.
It is also illegal to:
- use an assumed name for sponsor ID in a political ad;
- distribute campaign material deceptively similar in design or appearance to the voter and candidate pamphlets published by the Secretary of State, or
- use the state seal or its likeness to assist or defeat a candidate.