University objects to ‘No on 37’ ad, mailers implying Stanford endorsement

Oct. 17, 2012, 1:07 p.m.

Two weeks after Stanford University legal counsel requested that the No on 37 campaign change a television spot that used a background of Stanford’s campus and misidentified the nature of the speaker’s affiliation with the University by wrongly suggesting that the University had endorsed the message, the University has had to take action again. The No on 37 campaign mailed a flyer that promoted the same false information.

The television spot, which started airing on Oct. 2, features Hoover research fellow and founding director of the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Technology Henry Miller. The Hoover Institution is an independent think tank located on the Stanford campus.

In the original version, Miller was identified as “Dr. Henry I. Miller M.D., Stanford University, founding dir. FDA Office of Technology.” The title card now identifies Miller as “Henry I. Miller, M.D. Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University*; Founding Dir., FDA Office of Biotechnology.” Lower on the title card, the asterisk notes that the title “Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University” is being used “for identification purposes only.”

In the new mailer, Miller is again identified as an M.D. at Stanford, which is incorrect.  After the No on 37 campaign rescinded the mailer that prompted the Yes on 37 campaign to warn Stanford, a second No on 37 mailer (this time a large brochure) again falsely identified Miller. The first mailer was sent a week after Stanford initially asked No on 37 to amend its television ad.

In the original ad, which can no longer be found online, Miller was standing in an “ornately vaulted campus walkway,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The ad now shows Miller seated against a backdrop of an unidentifiable building.

“While everyone at Stanford is entitled to espouse whatever political view he or she may choose, we do not allow people affiliated with Stanford to take a political position in a way that could imply that it is Stanford’s position,” University Vice President and General Counsel Debra Zumwalt said to the San Francisco Chronicle.

University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin stated that Stanford does not allow political filming to take place on campus. It also does not take positions on ballot measures.

Proposition 37 would require food producers to label whether or not certain products contain or could contain genetically engineered ingredients from plants or animals.


— Alice Phillips

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