Journalism in the Public Interest

Help Us Track Political Ads In Wisconsin
Visit a Wisconsin TV station to help uncover political ad spending information.
by and Daniel Victor
ProPublica, Mar. 27, 2012, 11:34 am

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Hello, Wisconsin. We could use your help.

Last week, we began a project to show how campaigns, super PACs and nonprofits spend their money on influential television advertisements. Until now, the only way for people to get the details on spending has been to actually visit TV stations and ask for “the public file,” which stations are obligated to show you.

TV stations are fighting efforts that would require them to put the public data online, so with your help, we’ll force some transparency by putting the data online for them.

The detailed data reveal when the political ads air, how much they cost and who bought them. The data can be assembled into a clear picture of where the ads are being directed, and could expose spending that isn’t being reported to the Federal Election Commission.

With the help of volunteers last week, we posted files from Chicago. Wisconsin’s primary is coming up April 3, and we want to do the same in the Badger State. We know a pro-Mitt Romney super PAC has bought airtime, as has a pro-Rick Santorum super PAC.

Please fill out this brief form if you would like to participate. The task should take 15 to 30 minutes at the station, plus the time it takes to scan and email us the files. We will give you detailed instructions when you sign up, but we promise it’s not difficult.

Read our original story for more information on the process and what we hope to accomplish. So far, we’ve enlisted 126 people from 35 states and the District of Columbia.

This is the second of our trial runs, and if all goes well, we hope to expand our reach into the battleground states during the general election. Feedback from your experience will be crucial to that larger effort.

Please contact us at with any questions.

Get Involved

Thanks for your interest; this project has been archived and we are no longer accepting volunteers.

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