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Democrats making shutdown an issue in swing races

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Democrats are making a political bet that swing voters will make Republicans pay for the shutdown of the federal government.

Sunlight's Ad Hawk database, which tracks political ads and enables smartphone users to identify sources of money behind them, picked up four ads on Thursday by Democratic candidates or political action committees that tie GOP officeholders to the shutdown.

In Virginia, where voters go to the polls Nov. 5 to elect a new governor, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is linking his GOP opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, whose outspoken opposition to the implementation of ...

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Closure of disclosure, part II: Political ad filings go dark

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The government shutdown is turning into a major denial of service for journalists and other citizens interested in tracking the influence of big money on politics. Not only is it preventing scrutiny of campaign finance records -- potentially leaving voters in at least one Louisiana special election with NO information on donors before they head to the polls -- it's also making it next to impossible to provide up-to-date information on political ad buys. The shuttering of the Federal Communications Commission's website has severely hamstrung Political Ad Sleuth, a tool that the Sunlight Foundation and Free Press developed last year to track those buys at hundreds of TV stations across the country. And there are plenty of them -- some of them attempt to capitalize on the shutdown itself.

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Closure of disclosure: No FEC filings due during shutdown

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In shutting down the government, the nation's lawmakers also guaranteed a little less surveillance on themselves. Among the many agencies that will not be open for business as long as the political and budgetary stalemate continues is the Federal Election Commission, an agency created after the Watergate scandal. The idea was to reduce the possibilities of corruption in politics by making campaign donations more transparent. For the foreseeable future at least, those donations will be taking place under a cloak of darkness. Because the FEC's electronic filing system won't necessarily be available during the shutdown, the public will not be able to view the latest filings and filers will be free to ignore existing deadlines. Candidates will have until 24 hours after the government reopens to file campaign finance reports due during the shutdown. That could mean an extension for just about every candidate for federal office--there are two major filing deadlines fall this month. It also raises the possibility that some voters may not know the whole story about who's trying to influence their vote until after they go to the polls.

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Political Party Time turns the tables

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After a half-decade cataloguing political fundraising invitations (nearly 18,000 and counting!), the Sunlight Foundation decided to throw a bash of our own Tuesday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our Political Party Time site.

Some of Party Time's most loyal fans -- dozens of journalists and civic activists who use our data to shine light on money and influence in politics -- joined us to toast Party Time and tell favorite war stories.

"I'd like to thank Political Party Time for making sure I can never visit the city of Charlotte, N.C. ever again," quipped Andy Sullivan of Reuters, referring to the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. "Thanks to the data you provided, I wrote a story that so angered the host committee of the DNC (Democratic National Committee) that I'm no longer welcome there."

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Five years of Political Party Time

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We’ve told you before about the innovative ways our elected representatives raise cash: from assault rifle raffles to March Madness fund-a-thons to swanky out-of-town retreats. But taking a step back from all the invites shows some interesting trends. Check the graphic below, and see more dataviz on our 18,000 political fundraising invitations after the jump!

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Sunlight urges FCC to keep open the political ad file

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The Federal Communications Commission should not back down from requiring all broadcast stations to post political ad purchase disclosures online in time for next year's congressional midterm elections, the Sunlight Foundation and a coalition of public interest groups urged in a legal brief filed Monday. The National Association of Broadcasters, meanwhile, appeared to soften its longstanding opposition to online posting of the information.

Sunlight and its allies urged the commission to expand the reach of the current online file -- which compiles information on political ads purchased at about one-tenth of the nation's broadcast stations -- and to push for ...

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Senate Conservatives Fund targets Lindsey Graham

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A group founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint is targeting fellow South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, charging the two-term Republican with being insufficiently hostile to President Barack Obama's health care law.

The 61-second radio ad by the Senate Conservatives Fund popped up on Sunlight's Political Ad Hawk days after a tea party challenger announced she is entering the primary against Graham. The ad cites Graham's refusal to join Senate Republicans, such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, in an effort to cut off funding for the law. Graham, along with a number ...

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Ad watch: RNC launches attack on Hillary Clinton

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It's the dog days of August. It's more than three years till the next presidential election. But the Republican National Committee is attacking like it's 2016 already.

The spot above, which just appeared in Ad Hawk, Sunlight's mobile app that helps voters learn who's putting up the money behind ads, has all the earmarks of a preemptive strike against a Hillary Clinton for president campaign. The ad features Clinton's emotional testimony to Congress on the deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi, Libya while she was secretary of state.

At 31 seconds, it ...

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Ad spotlight: GOP family feud

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The rift in the Republican party is turning into an air war.

Usually, video attacks are reserved for election opponents or members of the opposite party but as members of Congress returned home for their August recess, members of the GOP appear to be gleefully violating the late President Ronald Reagan's "11th commandment" -- the one that said you shoul never speak ill of a fellow Republican. What we've spotted so far:

Freedomworks is going after John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican leader in the Senate leadership. The Tea Party-affiliated think tank is accusing the Texas Republican of betraying ...

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