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Political Action Group's Ad Stirs Up Controversy

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Political Action Group's Ad Stirs Up Controversy

Article excerpt

JACK GARGAN, FOUNDER of a Tampa, Fla.-based political action group trying to oust all congressional incumbents, is best known for his newspaper ads stating "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."

But he will take the check.

The Hartford (Conn.) Courant told Gargan it mistakenly ran a paid advertisement for his group, T.H.R.O. (Throw the Hypocritical Rascals Out), that did not meet the paper's advertising standards.

The newspaper said on Sept. 25 it would refund the approximately $1,000 the group paid for the quarter-page ad, which Gargan said he would accept, although his checkbook records indicate that he paid $2,213.35 for a five column, 13-inch deep ad. The Courant ran T.H.R.O.'s ad at a quarter-page, however.

"Maybe they are refunding me the difference," Gargan said.

Gargan believes the paper decided to refund the money because of political reasons.

"I know they said it was because of advertising standards, but I don't believe that. I think that's crap," he said.

The Sept. 24 ad had "standby" status, which means it was submitted to run whenever the paper had unsold advertising space available.

The ad is submitted to most papers through David Geller Associates, a remnant agency based in New York City. The agency told Gargan he would not be charged for the ad, and that a refund would be forthcoming.

"Under the pressure of the daily deadline to get the Courant to press, this advertisement went through our system without being called into question," said Dennis Schain, the newspaper's spokesman.

The Courant ran an explanation on Sept. 25 that said it would refund the money paid for the ad. The paper, by issuing that statement, "devalued" the ad, Gargan believes.

He also disputes the claim that the ad slipped through the system. He called the Courant directly after a rejection was sent to Geller Associates.

"We went back and forth. They hemmed and hawed and finally said they would run the ad," Gargan said.

Schain said because the ad "was aimed primarily at the solicitation of funds," the ad should not have run.

"In order to protect our readers, we are very cautious about running ads designed primarily for this purpose," he said.

Gargan maintains that the ad was educational.

"Why don't you ask the paper if they ever ran ads for the Red Cross or the Salvation Army. …

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