You know that ridiculous ad we saw last week paid for by a Republican political group depicting goofy San Franciscans, all in the service of defeating a Democratic challenger in a Georgia House race? Well now the SFMTA has come out swinging, sending the PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a cease-and-desist letter over the unauthorized image of a Powell-Hyde cable car in the ad. The end of the ad features the image of the cable car with a Jon Ossoff banner Photoshopped onto it complete with peace sign the point of the ad being that non-Georgians, and heathen San Franciscans, are funding this particular Democratic candidate.
The irony of course is that the Congressional Leadership Fund isn't based in Georgia either, and there very well could be California donors helping pay for this ad slamming Californians as well.
SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose tells the Chronicle that the ad is "a misrepresentation," and that the SFMTA has a specific policy against political ads of any kind, and that this would not have been an allowable use had the PAC done the proper work to request use of the cable car image. "The cable car is an iconic landmark that attracts people and attention from all over the world,” Rose tells the paper. “And I think we can all agree that it is best left un-Photoshopped.”
Rose says that an agency working for the PAC filed the request paperwork for use of the image one day before the ad aired, and it didn't land on Rose's desk until Monday of this week, a week later. While the SF Film Commission has granted such retroactive permissions before, the commission's executive director Susannah Greason Robbins tells the Chronicle she’s unsure “whether MTA would sign off in this case.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution got a quote from a rep for the PAC who says they “followed all guidelines” and worked with the San Francisco Film Commission to obtain proper permits and submit paperwork to use the image. They apparently already wrote the $623 check to the MTA for use of the image, but Rose says he hasn't received it.
The GOP super PAC, which has ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan, sees this Georgia race as a must-win, and is spending $6.5 million on the campaign to defeat Ossoff.