Sunlight and partner Associated Press Managing Editors invite citizens to join distributed research project
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the Sunlight Foundation is introducing a new website that allows citizens to report on the political ads they see on TV, hear on the radio or view online. The Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor (Sunlight CAM) allows anyone to report real-time information on who is buying political ad time in support of or against candidates or issues on the ballot. In 2008, $2.5 billion was spent on advertising for political campaigns and electoral issues, and experts are indicating that this year's elections will top that amount.
In January 2010, the landscape of money and politics in the U.S. changed dramatically with the Supreme Court's Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. In its wake, Congress has failed to take action to require reporting on the new political spending. Sunlight CAM is a response to this situation.
"Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor is a great tool for anyone who wants to participate in keeping tabs on whose paying for political ads across the country. With hundreds of millions of dollars already spent on political advertising and even more expected to be spent in the final weeks leading up to Election Day, voters have the right to know what private interests are behind these ads," said Ellen Miller, executive director and co-founder of the Sunlight Foundation. "And we're giving citizens the tools to help create a database that all of us can use."
Using the site is simple. Visit http://SunlightCAM.com and enter your home zip code on the main page, plus note what type of ad you are reporting (radio, TV or Internet). Next, enter some additional information, including the media outlet that ran the ad, which politician was mentioned, what was said and if the ad included a "paid for by" line. Sunlight encourages reporters, bloggers and citizens-alike to download the data to do additional research. The Sunlight Reporting Group will use Sunlight CAM to assist with its online investigations examining the flow of money this election season.
Sunlight CAM is a distributed database; its work driven by the site's users and our media partners, including the Associated Press Managing Editors association.
The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan non-profit that uses cutting-edge technology and ideas to make government transparent and accountable. Visit http://SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight's projects, including http://PoliticalPartyTime.org and http://TransparencyData.com.