CREW Requests FTC Investigate Former Senator Scott Brown
Washington, DC — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) today called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether former U.S. Senator Scott Brown violated the law by failing to disclose his financial interest in AdvoCare nutritional products when he endorsed them on Facebook and in other communications to his supporters.
On June 25, Mr. Brown started posting personal weight-loss success stories on his public Facebook page, attributing his success to AdvoCare, and encouraged his hundreds of thousands of supporters to contact him for more info. Once contacted, he would encourage them to sign up through his son-in-law, reassuring supporters that he and his wife were not paid representatives of AdvoCare.
“Mr. Brown, however, is or was an AdvoCare distributor,” CREW’s letter to the FTC reads. “Mr. Brown’s Facebook post and his emails in response to inquiries appear to violate the Federal Trade Commission Act and FTC guidance by failing to disclose his financial interest in endorsing AdvoCare products.”
The Federal Trade Commission Act broadly prohibits “unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” and FTC regulations provide specific guidance on using endorsements and testimonials in advertising. Under those guides, “[a]dvertisers are subject to liability…for failing to disclose material connections between themselves and their endorsers,” and “[e]ndorsers also may be liable for statements made in the course of their endorsements.”
“Mr. Brown’s Facebook post and emails clearly did not disclose any material connection with AdvoCare,” the letter continues. “To the contrary, Mr. Brown denied he was a paid spokesman for AdvoCare.”
Mr. Brown, in his Facebook post and emails, has clearly endorsed AdvoCare again and again without disclosing his material connection to the company. The FTC should investigate whether he violated the Federal Trade Commission Act in doing so.