Super PAC Sleuths: The Addresses Behind the Ads

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The 2010 elections might be over, but the job of finding out who spent what for which candidate is just beginning. Changes in election laws, from the Supreme Court in a pair of decisions, SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and a series of FEC and IRS rulings have led to a surge of outside groups spending unlimited money to influence elections. And 2010 was a just a warm-up: these organizations will most likely play a huge role attempting to influence votes in the 112th Congress, the 2012 Republican presidential primaries and the general election.

Finding out who’s behind these groups is a monumental task, but an absolutely essential one — and anyone out there reading this post can contribute to that effort. Although the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is supposed to be tracking this flood of campaign spending, they have yet to adopt final rules to do so. Good thing we don’t have to wait for the FEC to get its act together. Here’s what we can do now:

We’ve compiled a list of what we call Super PACs — those organizations that declared their intention to take unlimited donations from any source to fund political activities. We know where they are (check out this map!), but we need your help to expose who’s behind them.

In the coming days, we’ll be providing more information about how to join us as a “Super PAC Sleuth” to investigate and research these special interests in the shadows (and P.O. Boxes) all across the nation. This will be a multi-step project, but you can help us with the first part today by helping us show what these Super PACs actually look like:

Step 1: Pick a Super PAC near you Step 2: Take a picture of the Super PAC’s office Step 3: Upload the picture to your Flickr account Step 4: Enter the location of your photo on the Flickr map for the image. (Look to the upper right corner.) Step 5: Add your photo to our Super PAC Sleuths Group. Step 6: Disclosure! (Well, sort of: it’s a step in the right direction!)

Feel free to tag your submissions with “Super PAC” so that curious Flickr users can find your pictures, too. (You can see our early effort to map DC in the slideshow at the bottom of this post.)

Working together, we can really bring some disclosure to a process that is unjustly shielded from us. To join our awesome team of Super PAC sleuths sign up here, and we’ll send you an update later this week.

Already, the special interests are planning their next act. It’s only a few more weeks before the funds start pouring in for Election Day 2012, the presidential candidates start setting up exploratory committees, and the Super PACs start turning their attention to the legislative and electoral battles ahead. Don’t you want to know who’s trying to buy your vote and what their agenda really is?

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