Q&A on the News

Q: A political candidate comes on TV and urges us to vote for him or her and then concludes the message by saying “I approve this message.” Whose bright idea was that?

—Bill Smedley, Conyers

A: Candidates must state "I approve this message" or "I authorize this message" to conform to the "Stand By Your Ad" provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The law, also called the McCain–Feingold Act, was passed to hold candidates more accountable and keep them from making controversial claims and accusations in commercials and other forms of advertising.

The phrase “identifies the candidate and states that the candidate has approved the communication,” the law states. Candidates also must appear “unobscured” on camera in TV commercials or “in voice-over, accompanied by a clearly identifiable photographic or similar image of the candidate.” The tagline was first used in the 2004 elections.

Q: Are Thomas Eric Duncan’s relatives suing the Dallas hospital where he died?

—Tonya Kent, Suwanee

A: There have been reports that Duncan's family is thinking about suing Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, but nothing has been confirmed. Duncan, who was from Liberia and had recently traveled there, died at the hospital on Oct. 8. He was sent home after going the emergency room with Ebola-like symptoms on Sept. 25, but returned two days later. Legal experts say Duncan's family could have a tough time winning a liability suit in Texas, which has some of the toughest malpractice laws in the nation, the Washington Post reported.

Andy Johnston wrote this column. Do you have a question about the news? We’ll try to get the answer. Call 404-222-2002 or email q&a@ajc.com (include name, phone and city).