Sunlight tools helps connect the dots between independent expenditures and ads


Just over a month away from the midterm elections political ads are mustering strength and each advertisement is only one small piece of a larger network of money, power and influence. The Sunlight Foundation has two new tools to help track this political influence: Follow the Unlimited Money, a user friendly way to track advertising and other kinds of electioneering, and Sunlight Campaign Ad Monitor that tracks the end result of some of the political spending powered by citizens reporting.

Using both these tools together, we've picked a few ads reported by citizens and looked up more details on the organizations behind these ads.

One of the ads reported through SunlighCAM is this one, paid for by in opposition to Republican candidate Kelly Ayotte running for the Senate from New Hampshire. According to Follow the Unlimited Money, spent $58,650 to create ads against Ayotte and $385,940 nationally to oppose select Republicans.

Another Sunlight CAM volunteer spotted a TV advertisement against Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., and his stance on health care legislation paid for by the 60 Plus Assication. This group has backing from PhRMA and has spent almost half a million dollars on Kanjorski in September alone. Nationally, the 60 Plus Association is spending $4.6 million to oppose Democrats.

Another ad brought to our attention via SunlightCAM was this one paid for by Our Country Deserves Better which is making independent expenditures to promote Tea Party candidates across the nation. So far, they have spent $2.2 million overall and $131,000 on Christine O’Donnell alone. This money is buying TV, radio and newspaper advertisement to try and persuade voters to rally around the Tea Party cause.