New FCC rule allows you to track the money behind political ads

Have you ever watched a political advertisement slamming a candidate and wondered who foot the bill for the ad?

Until now, it has been murky at best to nail down exactly where the cash is coming from.

But starting this week, according to the Sunlight Foundation, broadcast television stations across the country will have to post contracts illustrating who is buying the commercials and how much money they are doling out.

“Having the political ad files online is important. In some cases they provide the only public information available on groups that are thinly disguised as nonprofit “social welfare” organizations but are, in fact, major campaign players,” the Sunlight Foundation reported.

In 2004, when Deborah Senn was running for Washington state attorney general, an ad ran close to her primary, catching her off guard. The Atlantic ran the story by reporter Ben Wieder, highlighting how it can be a challenge to trace ads.

The ad implied Senn had made a questionable deal with an insurance company in her former role as the Washington state insurance commissioner.

“I turned on the TV and saw those ads on every single channel,” Senn told Wieder.

He reported, “The committee’s name didn’t ring a bell, and she had no idea who was behind it — the committee hadn’t disclosed its donors to the state.”

“She blames the ads, and similar ones that aired later, as a decisive factor in her election night loss to Republican Rob McKenna,” according to the story, which you can read here:

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake

Lauren Dake covers politics for The Columbian. You can reach her at 360-735-4534 or Follow her on Twitter .

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