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The Never-Ending Billboard


ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- Red, white, and bold all over-- it's a billboard along U.S. 52 north of Rochester that's hard to miss. It calls on voters to "Take Back America" on November 6th. But that's November 6th, 2012, for anyone paying attention. 

"We actually just leased it for 6 weeks," said Cindy Maves of the Rochester Tea Party Patriots. 

According to the company, the billboard was leased from Boll Com, a advertising business out of the Twin Cities. 

"We did call and ask them to take it down and they said that they would, but they haven't," said Maves. 

Funded by money funneled to the Rochester Tea Party Patriots, the election has long been in the history books, yet the billboard still stands.  

"I have heard that it has been up for a long time and I believe the Secretary of State's office has had some inquiries about that," said Olmsted County Director of Property Records & Licensing Mark Krupski. 

"We wanted to get something up to get out the vote for the election and we decided that the billboard on Highway 52, which receives thousands and thousands of viewings per day, would be our best bet," said Maves. 

There are numerous ordinances and laws that govern political lawn signs, political commercials, and political funding, and that's where things get complicated. 

"Billboards are regulated differently than lawn signs. They do not fall under the local city ordinance; they fall under zoning regulation," said Krupski.

This particular billboard sits outside the Rochester city limits and falls under the jurisdiction of the State of Minnesota and Olmsted County. 

"The county only regulates advertising signs and does not address political signs per se," said Krupski. 

The State of Minnesota has a non-commercial signs exemption, which regulates the size, number, and distance of signs from polling places.

It states that any sign of any size may be posted 46 days before the state primary in a state general election until 10 days following that election.  

"Say Rochester had a limit on signs--two signs per lot. That goes out the window before and after an election," said Rochester City Attorney Terry Adkins. 

Adkins claims the content of the billboard has no bearing on how long it can stay up. 

"Constitutionally, you cannot restrict the time a political free speech billboard can be. If you really want to put your "I Like Eisenhower" sign in your lawn, there's not a darn thing government can do to stop you," said Adkins. 

"They can keep that sign up until 2014," said Adkins. 

So for now, the billboard stands as a red white and blue reminder of the election that was. 

FOX 47 News reached out to Boll Com, the billboard company that leased the ad space to the Rochester Tea Party Patriots. 

The company claims the reason the billboard has been up so long is because they simply have not been able to lease the space to another interested party. 

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