The National Association of Manufacturers authorized close to $1 million on ads in Ohio over a two-week period, according to files uncovered with Sunlight's Political Ad Sleuth.
Update 10/18/2012, 10:15 a.m.: NAM seems to have focused its firepower on the Cincinnati market. An analysis of the ad buys by Sunlight turned up 161 spots on Cincinnati stations, compared to 96 in Cleveland and 40 in Columbus. This only includes stations that are required to file their ad buys with the Federal Communications Commission's online database. Only 11 of Ohio's 40 television stations are included. The Sunlight Foundation, in partnership with Free Press, is collecting files from stations not in the FCC database and posting them online. For information on how to help, check here.
NAM had acknowledged its ad campaign in a press release, but specifics, such as the amount spent, were hidden in the FCC online database of political ad buys. According to electioneering rules, ads that are run outside the 60-day window before the election — prior to Sept. 7 this year — do not have to be disclosed to the Federal Elections Commission. But as of Aug. 2, political ad files previously stored at some TV stations must be uploaded to the FCC online database, shedding light on a portion of the dark money spent before the electioneering period.
The NAM ad campaign targets Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, who is vulnerable in his race against Josh Mandel, according to the Cook Political Report. In an agreement uploaded to the FCC online database, NAM authorized up to $980,000 for ads on the "effects of new regulations on manufacturers," to be placed through Target Enterprises.
A spokesperson for the NAM wouldn't confirm the final amount spent through the arrangement. But according to Justin Barasky, Communications Director for the Brown campaign, NAM dropped at least $693,000 between Aug. 20 and Sept. 5 — just before disclosure to the FEC would have been required.
Political Ad Sleuth helps uncover undisclosed spending by making political ad files easier to navigate and allowing users to upload files from TV markets not covered by the FCC. For more information, please visit PoliticalAdSleuth.com.