Should politicians have to tell the truth?

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Boca State Sen. Maria Sachs is pushing an effort in Tallahassee that would require politicians - and their supporters - to tell the truth in TV ads.

"Free speech is a wonderful right that we have. But nobody has the right to use the first amendment as a shield," said Sachs.

Sachs points to Florida election law that already says candidates can't lie, and wants it expanded to include anyone running ads on behalf of a candidate. But Florida's former ACLU head has two main beefs.

First, how do you enforce it?

"Who do we trust to determine whether speech is true or false or hurtful or unhurtful or necessary? Ultimately, its got to be the voters and not a government official," said West Palm Beach attorney James Green.

And second, would it hurt the very thing government is sworn to protect?

"It would make people afraid to be critical, it would make people afraid to express their opinion because of fear of prosecution," said Green.

But Sachs says government - for it to work - has to be grounded in truth. "When it comes to personal attacks that are based on allegations that are not even true, then we've gone too far."

Voter Michael Margaritoff of West Palm Beach says legislating the truth is ridiculous. "There's no way humanity can ever develop so many laws that you can take care of all the facets of human trechery."

NewsChannel 5 spoke to two Democratic and two Republican state legislators who say that they would support the proposal, but one lamented it would never become law because Sachs is a member of the minority party.

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