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Campaign Sign Complaints

JOHNSON COUNTY,  IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- Less than a week before elections, some in the Corridor are concerned that some corporations or campaigns are breaking state law. 

Johnson County auditor Travis Weipert said his office has been receiving complaints about a number of campaign signs placed on corporate property in the area, which violates Iowa state code. 

It's something that Coralville city council incumbent and candidate Bill Hoeft takes very seriously. He said he won't put a sign anywhere he doesn't have permission. 

"You're trying to gain people's votes, and you don't want to upset someone by putting a sign where it doesn't belong," Hoeft said. 

On a larger scale, Weipert said, campaigns -- and their supporters -- can't be in violation of the law. 

The current code says: "Campaigns Signs shall not be placed on any of the following ... property owned, leased, or occupied by a prohibited contributor under section 68A.503" -- or, corporations. 

But what if property is owned by a corporation and leased to an individual? What counts and what doesn't? According to Weipert, there is a lot of gray area there. 

"Which is where our office is running into some problems. People think we can go out and play the sign police, which we don't have the legal authority (to do), so we're kind of directing all of those inquiries to Des Moines at this point," Weipert said. 

Some of those complaints came from the area near the Coral Ridge Mall on 25th Avenue in Coralville. Hoeft also had signs placed in that area, but on private property. He said, in light of the complaints, he had his own questions about whether that land was entirely private or tied to a corporation in some way, and would remove the signs if there was a conflict. 

"That's important for me to run a campaign that I can lay my head down and go to sleep at night and feel good about what I'm trying to accomplish," he said. 

Weipert said his office can't go out and pick up signs placed in the cities, so people with questions about the placement of a sign should call that city's manager, or the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, at: (515) 281-4106.

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