All of the “voter fraud” billboards erected by billboard company Clear Channel Outdoor throughout Cleveland, Ohio will be removed immediately, according to a report this morning from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The more than 30 billboards, reading “Voter fraud is a felony,” have been standing since earlier this month. They were paid for by an anonymous “private family foundation” (as indicated in fine print below the warning that voter fraud is punishable by up to 3 1/2 years in prison and a $10,000 fine). As we’ve covered often on MHP, Clear Channel and their anonymous client had come under heavy nationwide fire from activists, politicians, and journalists like Melissa and yours truly for the billboards’ nearly exclusive presence in communities of color, and their fact-challenged voter intimidating message, targeted particularly at ex-offenders–who can vote in Ohio.
Previously, Clear Channel had stood by the ads, despite admitting that they made a mistake in signing a contract that would allow their clients to be post anonymous advertisements. Now, in a step to correct that error, the billboard giant reportedly asked the “private family foundation” how they would prefer to address it. Rather than revealing themselves and standing behind their message, this is what they told Clear Channel:
The client thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them.
Whether or not the cause is this client’s decision to exercise his/her/its right to remain anonymous, the billboards in Cleveland are coming down. We here at MHP are inquiring with Clear Channel as to the status of similar billboards placed in Cincinnati and Milwaukee, all of which also bear the marker “paid for by a private family foundation.” More here when we know it.