MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s election season, with wall to wall campaign ads.

A lot of you are wondering, how can we run these on TV when we know some of them are false or misleading? WCCO’s Pat Kessler watches all of these ads closely, and Pat gets most of the email.

Yes, that is the most common question we get, every single day: Why do you run these ads?

Short answer: It’s the law! Check out these grainy, undercover looking videos of candidates — making them look like criminals!

The Federal Communications Commission says we cannot refuse to run these ads or alter them in any way if they are from any legally qualified candidate. Plus, we have to charge them the lowest rate.

If they are from outside groups, we can refuse to air them, but only if they are offensive or legally defamatory. What’s false or offensive is in the eye of the beholder.

We’ve also been getting mail from viewers about an ad from State Senator Karin Housley, who’s running against Senator Tina Smith. Housley was one of the leaders at the legislature who did a lot to help expose elder abuse at senior care facilities.

She says in the ad, “I fought to protect our seniors, and we won.” It’s true, Housley held hearings and fought to expose abuse and to pass laws protecting seniors and vulnerable adults.

But the final bill she authored contained only modest changes to the laws, and it was tucked into a mega-spending bill that Governor Dayton vetoed.

Keith Ellison is running for Attorney General. Some viewers are questioning an ad. Yes, it’s a very controversial campaign. Ellison is accused of domestic abuse by a former girlfriend, which is getting a lot of high-profile media attention.

The ad is about credit card companies and payday loans. And viewers want to know: Is that even what an Attorney General does?

Short answer: Yes, an attorney general has many duties outlined by law, and it could include those things. The Attorney General is Minnesota’s No. 1 lawyer, and represents the state in court.

There are very broad duties set out in the law, and they could include taking legal action against “unlawful practices in business, commerce or trade.”

Perhaps because of the abuse allegations, this is a race that is unexpectedly close between the Democrat Ellison and Republican Attorney General candidate Doug Wardlow. A Republican has not won the Minnesota Attorney General’s office in 46 years.

Pat Kessler