Nathan Boyles: “There’s a distinction there between meeting the legal standard for what’s allowable on a billboard and meeting our high community standard."

BAKER — Okaloosa County Commissioner Nathan Boyles has sent a letter to local businessman Cash Moore asking him to remove the controversial liquor store billboards that he erected in Baker last week.

In the letter, Boyles, who represents the county’s third district, told Moore that he respects “your free speech rights and your business interests,” but would “respectfully suggest that your choice of advertising material may be severely damaging your standing in our community."

The billboards, which are located on State Road 4 near the intersection with Highway 90, drew criticism from some members of the community last week for their provocative content. One sign features a picture of Moore with large red letters next to him that read “Cash’s: Getting America laid and happy since 1965.” On the opposite billboard, Moore’s daughter and her children are seen with the message, “Please shop at Cash’s, we need diaper money.”

Boyles said he decided to send the letter to Moore last Thursday after hearing several complaints from his constituents.

“I did receive quite a few concerns and complaints from constituents who live in that area or who travel through that area,” he said.

Boyles said he requested that the Florida Department of Transportation review the ad copy. He also said he was reviewing county ordinances that dealt with ad copy content, but was hesitant to say the billboards outright violated those ordinances.

“There’s a distinction there between meeting the legal standard for what’s allowable on a billboard and meeting our high community standard,” he said. “So the reality may be that the billboard copy is distasteful and offensive, but may not go beyond, or may not violate the established (rules).”

When reached by phone Monday, Moore said he was “sorry if anybody was offended” by the billboards but declined further comment.

DOT Communications Director Dick Kane sent a statement in response to questions about whether the department regulates billboard content.

"Outdoor advertising signs along Florida’s highways are located on private property and not the highway right of way owned by the state," the emailed statement said. "The department is required and authorized to regulate some aspects of outdoor advertising displays, including the distance between signs, and the size and height of signs.

"However, the department does not have authority under Florida law to regulate the advertising content displayed on a privately owned billboard," it continued. "Issues over objectionable content are matters that local governments may choose to address."

According to the business' website (cashsliquors.com), Cash's Liquors operates 13 locations in Fort Walton Beach, Mary Esther, Crestview, Laurel Hill, Niceville, Destin, DeFuniak Springs and South Freeport.