Sunlight Grantee Launches Ambitious Tracking and Analysis of Political Ads


Since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision earlier this year the Sunlight Foundation has tried a number of approaches to illuminate the political spending that currently rest in the shadows. Last week we offered a package of policy recommendations for the 112th Congress and earlier this week we launched our Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor to allow citizens to contribute real-time tracking information of political advertising.

And here’s one more weapon in citizens’ arsenals to fight against hidden campaign spending. Some months ago we made a grant to support the Wesleyan Media Project which is today launching their comprehensive tracking and analysis of spending on political ads from around the country.

The Wesleyan Media Project will begin to release detailed information on the content and targeting of political advertising on the federal and state level this coming Monday. The goal is to create a definitive database of ads for the 2010 election cycle with accompanying analysis to enrich the research of journalists, academics and citizens. Eventually video files will be included and compared to previous spending during campaign seasons. The project is a collaboration between Wesleyan University, Bowdoin College and Washington State University.

“We are extremely grateful for the support of Knight Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation and look forward to working with Kantar Media/CMAG in providing the only public, comprehensive information on the content, sponsor, targeting and spending of broadcast advertising,” says Erika Franklin Fowler, Wesleyan University Assistant Professor of Government and Director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “Much has been made of recent changes in the campaign finance landscape with a particular eye on political advertising, and we are proud to be able to provide systematic evidence about who is attempting to influence elections, what they are saying and where.”

The Sunlight Foundation looks forward to the work of this project and are proud to join the Knight Foundation in supporting the work of the Wesleyan Media Project.