AP, herald.com (Miami), Jun. 1
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A radio station temporarily suspended broadcasts of a commercial for a Republican congressional candidate who rails against illegal immigration but then signs off in Spanish, including the salutation “Yo, Gringo!”
WSJS-AM said it made the decision over the holiday weekend because it was unclear if the sponsor was clearly identified in the otherwise-English ad for candidate Vernon Robinson. The ad contends the prevalence of Spanish spoken in the United States can make English-speaking Americans feel like they’re in “The Twilight Zone.”
Only the final line is in Spanish. After “Yo, Gringo!” — a contemptuous Spanish term for Americans — the rest translates to “This episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ was paid for by Robinson for Congress.”
The commercial was returned to the air Tuesday with the English translation. WSJS manager Tom Hamilton said all political ads were temporarily suspended while the problem with Robinson’s ad was resolved.
Robinson said the flap did not change the overall message of his commercial: “To show the importance of securing our borders, stopping the illegal immigration invasion and making English the official language of the United States.”
He said Tuesday he grudgingly agreed to let the station edit it into English, but is considering a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.
He said neither the FCC nor the Federal Election Commission offer guidance on whether the announcement of sponsorship must be in English.
Rod Royse, an FCC spokesman in Washington, said rules about political ad disclaimers are written in general language, based on the good-faith judgment of candidates and broadcasters. In some situations, he said, Spanish would be appropriate for a disclaimer “but in this case, it’s not. … There’s a possibility of a violation.”
Robinson, a black Winston-Salem city councilman and regular candidate for office, is one of eight GOP candidates in the July 20 primary for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Richard Burr, who is running for the Senate.
In campaign mailings, Robinson has often invoked the name of one of the state’s conservative icons, proclaiming: “Jesse Helms is back! And this time he’s black.” In January, he placed a one-ton Ten Commandments monument outside Winston-Salem City Hall; the city removed it.