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PIA of New Jersey Protests Ads in Turnpike Authority Mailings

PIA of New Jersey is protesting a pilot program under which the state Turnpike Authority is allowing GEICO and other advertisers to place ads in...
May 9, 2006

PIA of New Jersey is protesting a pilot program under which the state Turnpike Authority is allowing GEICO and other advertisers to place ads in statements received by users of the state's EZPass system for paying tolls.

PIANJ has urged State Assemblyman Neil Cohen (D) to investigate the practice and ask that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority halt the program that sends EZPass holders ads with their statements in the mail by way of a Connecticut-based marketing firm. Cohen, the chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, said he plans to introduce legislation barring state agencies from the practice.

"PIANJ believes that sending advertisements for any for-profit enterprise is wrong. The implied endorsement of state government should not be for sale to the highest bidder," said PIANJ President John A. Latimer, Esq.

"We applaud Assemblyman Cohen's recognition that a state authority should not support any single company over another in ours, or any, industry. And, we appreciate his taking action. We join his disapproval by asking the Turnpike Authority to immediately suspend any mailing of insurance solicitations with EZPass or any state-associated materials," Latimer said.

PIA affiliates in other states have addressed this practice with some success.

Recently in Ohio, PIA persuaded Governor Bob Taft (R) to intervene and halt the distribution of fliers from any single insurance company, and specifically Allstate Auto Insurance, inside mailers for vehicle registration reminders. As of this month, these types of advertisements will not be put into the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles notices. Governor Taft requested that no ads
that may be viewed as a conflict of interests, or that may encourage drivers to think they must endorse a particular product related to their vehicles, be used in the mailers.

That success has encouraged PIA of New York to renew its criticisms of the same practice by the Department of Motor Vehicles in its state.

Law Sought to Bar Ads With EZPass Bills (Asbury Park NJ Press 5/7/06)