Journalism in the Public Interest

Buying Your Vote

Sean Noble was a former congressional aide just starting as a political consultant when he was recruited to help run the Kochtopus — Charles and David Koch’s multi-layered political network. More »

Some tax-exempt groups underreported their political activities in 2010 to the IRS, ProPublica finds, using tactics that are being used to pour dark money into campaigns on an even larger scale this year. More »

Many have been detailing the vast sums being raised by the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them. But where are all those millions being spent? More »

Two federal court rulings in 2010 paved the way for the ascent of "super PACs," political action committees that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political races, as long as they don't coordinate with a specific candidate. This app keeps track of where super PACs are spending and raising their cash to influence the presidential race.
More »

This chart shows the share of all contributions given by the top 10 donors to each of the 12 largest super PACs. More »

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Paul Ryan Reading Guide: The Best Reporting on the House Republican

We’re going beyond the horse race and gathering the best stories out there on Congressman Ryan and his positions.

Could Scott Walker’s Legal Victory Expand PAC Superpowers?

Proponents of tighter reins on political money worry that a Wisconsin ruling about the governor's recall campaign could carry seeds of another 'Citizens United.'

New IRS Rules on Dark Money Likely Won’t Be Ready Before 2016 Election

The IRS faces a number of hurdles before its new regulations for social welfare nonprofits can be finalized, including potential opposition from Congress.

Secret Donors Behind Some Super PACs Funneling Millions into Midterms

Super PACs are required to identify their contributors, but some of them are funded entirely or mostly by social welfare nonprofits that don't have to do so. That leaves voters in the dark about where money is really coming from.

A Kansas Group’s Push to Oust Judges Reveals a Gap in Campaign Finance Rules

Judicial retention elections in Kansas have typically been apolitical and uncontested — until Kansans for Justice entered the fray earlier this month. Now state election overseers are grappling with a new kind of dark money.

In Wisconsin, Dark Money Got a Mining Company What It Wanted

An accidentally released court filing reveals how one company secretly gave money to a nonprofit that helped get favorable mining legislation passed.

Cuomo Has Raised Millions Through Loophole He Pledged to Close

The governor has called for closing a gap in the state’s campaign finance laws, but he’s taken far more through the loophole than his predecessors, much of it from real estate developers.

IRS Delays New Rules for Dark Money Groups

The agency has pushed back indefinitely a hearing on new regulations for social welfare nonprofits that spend money on politics.

Senate to Take Up Longshot Amendment to Regulate Campaign Finance

The Senate could soon consider a constitutional amendment that would give Congress and states the ability to limit money in politics, possibly reversing the effect of recent Supreme Court rulings. But the amendment doesn’t appear to have the votes to pass.

Dark Money Group Sues IRS Over Targeting, Disclosure

Freedom Path was launched by backers of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and ran ads supporting Hatch and other Republicans in 2012. It said it suffered damages because the IRS flagged its application for extra scrutiny and disclosed its pending application to ProPublica.

Liberal Outside Money Groups Spend Big in North Carolina

Liberal spending via dark money groups and super PACs was relatively modest in 2012. But their spending has taken off this year in at least one state.

What Happens When a Dark Money Group Blows Off IRS Rules? Nothing.

The Government Integrity Fund spent most of its money on election ads, despite IRS rules prohibiting a social welfare nonprofit from doing so.

What Newly Released Docs Tell Us About the IRS and How It Handles Dark Money Groups

Here are five takeaways ProPublica found from the documents released Wednesday by a House committee.

Podcast: The Hidden Power of Dark Money

Kim Barker and Theo Meyer discuss the increasingly shadowy world of political spending, the power of the Koch brothers’ network, and what to expect in midterm races.

Who Controls the Kochs’ Political Network? ASMI, SLAH and TOHE

Obscure limited liability companies have ultimate say over the Koch network’s nonprofits, which spend hundreds of millions of dollars to advance conservative causes.

The Dark Money Man: How Sean Noble Moved the Kochs’ Cash into Politics and Made Millions

Sean Noble was a former congressional aide just starting as a political consultant when he was recruited to help run the Kochtopus — Charles and David Koch’s multi-layered political network.

A Reading Guide on the Billionaire Koch Brothers

A Reading Guide on the Billionaire Koch Brothers

The IRS Moves to Limit Dark Money – But Enforcement Still a Question

The proposed regulations could dramatically limit how nonprofits spend money. But the proposals aren’t a done deal, and it’s not clear whether groups would comply.

New Tax Return Shows Karl Rove’s Group Spent Even More On Politics Than It Said

The $26.4 million grant from Rove’s dark money giant, Crossroads GPS, to Americans for Tax Reform was supposed to be spent on social welfare and education. Instead, records show, at least $11.2 million of that grant money went to politics.

Dark Money Groups Pay $1 Million in Fines in California Case

Two groups linked to the Koch brothers admit they did not properly disclose contributions for state ballot measures. One says it did so inadvertently, blaming its unfamiliarity with California’s rules.

Dark Money Operative Sees Hope for Meth House Documents Go Up in Smoke

In a sharply worded ruling, a federal judge in Montana ruled that documents found inside a Colorado meth house pointing to possible election law violations will not be returned to the couple claiming the papers were stolen from one of their cars. Instead, they'll remain with a grand jury.

D’Oh! ‘America Is Not Stupid’ Wins IRS Recognition as Tax-Exempt Nonprofit

Tax regulators recognize two related dark money groups, even though they appear to have made misleading statements on their applications for tax-exempt status.

IRS Office That Targeted Tea Party Also Disclosed Confidential Docs From Conservative Groups

The IRS’s Cincinnati office last year sent ProPublica the unapproved applications for several conservative groups.

Senator Pushes for Investigation of ‘False Statements’ by Dark Money Groups

If the IRS is not well-suited to investigate these “plain vanilla criminal cases,” the U.S. Department of Justice should, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said.

Voter Information Wars: Will the GOP Team Up With Wal-Mart’s Data Specialist?

The 2012 Obama campaign set the bar for the use of voter data. The Republicans aren't interested in being beaten again.

Inside Game: Creating PACs and then Spending Their Money

The California consulting firm Russo, Marsh and Associates has tapped into Tea Party true believers, and made millions as a result.

From Citizens United to Super PACs: A Campaign Finance Reading Guide

A roundup of the most important stories on campaign finance, and the dark money groups that don’t have to report their donors.

IRS Should Bar Dark Money Groups From Funding Political Ads, Lawsuit Says

A former Illinois congressional candidate joins forces with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to challenge IRS oversight of social welfare nonprofits.

Can Vote-By-Mail Fix Those Long Lines At The Polls?

A big potential drawback to the convenience of absentee and mail voting: Studies show that ballots are rejected at a higher rate than for voters who brave the wait at polling places.

Big Corporations Put Up Seed Funding for Republican Dark Money Group

IRS files show that some of the biggest companies in the country provided more than a million dollars a decade ago to launch a Republican dark money group.

Message Machine

We've been collecting emails from political campaigns and tracking the variations. Here you can explore those emails.

Obama Says We Need to Fix Voting Lines. But How?

Researchers say simply expanding voting hours and shortening ballots isn’t enough. The U.S. needs to overhaul how they decide to allocate resources on Election Day.

The Best Reporting on Redistricting Shenanigans (#MuckReads)

We’ve rounded up some of the best reporting on how the parties have tried to influence both congressional and state electoral maps — and, in most cases, gotten away with it — for political gain.

Four Graphs That Show How Democrats Predict Your Political Beliefs

Little pieces of data about individual voters add up to a powerful big picture for state Democratic parties

In Minnesota, Democratic Grandmas Gather Data About Their Neighbors

From the campaign sign on your lawn to what you write in a letter to the editor, your political opinions are being recorded in party databases — and then shared in ways you might not expect.

Controversial Dark Money Group Among Five That Told IRS They Would Stay Out of Politics, Then Didn’t

Americans for Responsible Leadership, which California officials have accused of "campaign money laundering," promised the IRS it would not engage in elections, a confidential filing shows.

In Montana, Dark Money Helped Democrats Hold a Key Senate Seat

With control of the Senate at stake, liberals hit the streets and bought ads for a libertarian candidate who likely siphoned crucial votes away from the Republican challenger.

How Much Did Sheldon Adelson Really Spend on Campaign 2012?

Because of dark money, we may never know. But recent campaign finance filings give us a better idea.

Karl Rove’s Dark Money Group Promised IRS It Would Spend ‘Limited’ Money on Elections

Crossroads GPS, which has spent tens of millions from secret donors on elections, told the IRS in its 2010 application that its efforts would focus on education, policy-making and research.

Are Voter ID Laws Here to Stay?

The elections saw a furor over voter ID laws. So what's next for the laws?

Crowdsourcing Campaign Spending: What We Learned From Free the Files

This fall, ProPublica set out to Free the Files, enlisting our readers to help us review political ad files logged with Federal Communications Commission. Here’s how we did it.

FCC’s Plan for Fixing Its Political Ads Transparency Site? It Won’t Say

The agency’s new system to put political ad spending information online turned out to be deeply flawed.

Everything We Know (So Far) About Obama’s Big Data Tactics

A new look at what the Obama campaign did with its much-heralded data operation.

Why Is Arizona Still Counting Votes?

Answer: a record number of early and provisional ballots that’s squeezing the system.

What Effect, If Any, Did Voter ID Laws Have on the Election?

Dealt early defeats in court, the laws’ actual impact on voters remains an open question

What We Learned from Free the Files—and How to Make It Better

After spending months digging through the tens of thousands of documents the country's television stations uploaded as part of our Free the Files project, we look back on what we learned and how to make it better.

Outside Groups Dominated Las Vegas Airwaves in 2012 Campaign

An analysis of political ad files in our Free the Files database found spending by dark money nonprofit Crossroads GPS and its affiliate super PAC rivaled spending by the Obama and Romney campaigns combined.

How Much Did Independent Groups Spend Per Vote?

Although an unprecedented amount was spent by outside groups in an effort to influence the 2012 campaign, the candidates with the most super PAC funding were defeated Tuesday. Here's a look at how much outside groups spent per vote in a few of the notable races.

Check ’Em Out: Donations to Dark Money Group Revealed

ProPublica and Frontline are putting checks written to Western Tradition Partnership online. Released under a court order last week, the records give a rare look inside the controversial dark money group.

Meet the 10 People Leading ProPublica’s Free the Files Effort

All told, 880 people have helped review at least one file as part of our Free the Files initiative. But 10 people led the pack, collectively reviewing half of all the files reviewed.

Obama’s Microtargeting ‘Nuclear Codes’

Some key findings on campaign targeting from Time Magazine's interviews with Obama advisers.

Welcome to Election Day: Seven Things That Could Go Wrong (or Already Have)

Long lines, confusion, voter suppression, Sandy-related disruptions, a tie in electoral votes and more.

Dark Money and the 2012 Election: We Need Your Help!

Join ProPublica’s campaign to shine a light on the hidden aspects of campaign finance by chronicling ad spending in Las Vegas, one of the nation’s most heavily blanketed cities.

Why It May Be Illegal to Instagram Your Ballot

In most states, you’re not allowed to show other people your marked ballot.

Your ‘Free the Files’ Election Day Challenge: Liberate Las Vegas

We want a better picture of who’s behind the Vegas ad blitz, which is why we’re declaring an Election Day Challenge here at ProPublica. The mission? To liberate Las Vegas.

Five of the Most Confusing Ballots in the Country

In many states, voters will be asked to weigh in on a slew of measures and proposals, whether comprehensible or not.

Key Montana Senate Race Draws Deluge of Dark Money

More TV ads have been purchased in the race than in any other Senate contest in the country, including many paid for by outside money groups.

Dark Money Group’s Donors Revealed

Bank records released under a court order show that Western Tradition Partnership's donors included an Oklahoma businessman, a Colorado builder and other dark money groups linked to Ron Paul.

Dark Money Group’s Bank Records Suggest Ties to Campaign Work

Bank records released Friday by a Montana district court judge show that the wife of a key player for Western Tradition Partnership signed many of the group's checks. She runs a company that did work for candidates.

Reading Guide: Where Romney and Obama Actually Stand on Global Warming

We've looked beyond the candidates' rhetoric — or lack thereof — to find out where they actually stand on climate change.

A Pop-Up Problem

By the time the Internal Revenue Service discovers that a group has crossed the line from nonprofit promotion to politicking, many operators have boarded up shop and moved on.

Dark Money Rises

Hundreds of millions of dollars spent on this election came from faceless donors. A TIME/ProPublica report on how mystery cash is changing American politics.

When Dark Money Goes Local

How the Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity is attacking a cap-and-trade program in New Hampshire.

More Evidence Key Dark Money Group May Have Misled IRS

Western Tradition Partnership's alleged big donor said he had actually never heard of the group.

Documents Found in Meth House Bare Inner Workings of Dark Money Group

Boxes of records turned over to Montana authorities show that a top person from Western Tradition Partnership interacted with candidates and helped shape their election efforts, possibly violating laws that bar coordination between campaigns and outside groups.

Reading Guide: Where Romney and Obama Stand on the Supreme Court

It's a topic voters won't necessarily hear about – despite the long-lasting consequences.

Dark Money and Citizens United: What Obama and Romney Would and Wouldn’t Do About It

We look at where the candidates stand on money in politics.

How Companies Have Assembled Political Profiles for Millions of Internet Users

Political targeting companies are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be "anonymous" on the web.

Debate Night Snacks: Help ProPublica Take a Bite out Dark Money Spending

Tonight, while Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are preparing their foreign policy talking points for the final presidential debate of the 2012 election, we’ll be joining a group of Ohio volunteers focused on uncovering political spending at home.

Reading Guide: Where Obama and Romney Actually Stand on Iran

We've looked beyond the candidates' campaign rhetoric to see what actually separates them on Iran.

Did the Dark Money Group that Spurred a Landmark Ruling Mislead the IRS?

A nonprofit group that filed a lawsuit that led the Supreme Court to apply its Citizens United decision to states told the IRS that it wouldn't intervene in elections – after it already had.

Democratic Congressman Takes Heat For Lobbyist-Organized Taiwan Trip

ProPublica reported on Bill Owens’ trip to Taiwan earlier this year. Now his opponent is attacking him over the trip in a campaign ad.

Message Machine Starts Providing Answers

Political campaigns use massive databases to target their constituents. ProPublica's Message Machine is beginning to find some answers on how they do it.

Money is Speech: A Musical History of Campaign Finance

Our latest explainer video, on the storied history of money in politics.

The Campaign Finance Free-For-All: How We Got to This Point

A primer in the four-decade-long unraveling of campaign finance reform

Big Electric Companies Behind ‘Grassroots’ Ad Campaign in Florida

Defend My Dividend calls itself a grassroots campaign to halt a dividend tax hike. But the group's ad buys are linked to trade groups for utilities and other dividend-paying companies.

Free the Files Tracks $294 Million in TV Ads, With Obama Topping Buyer List

In just two weeks, volunteers for our Free the Files project have liberated information on $294 million in political ad buys.

Reporting Recipe: Four Stories You Can Write Using Free the Files

The FCC is finally requiring TV stations to upload political ad files online. Here's how to use them.

Free the Files Frequently Asked Questions

Free the Files is a new ProPublica news application tracking political ad filings from television stations in swing markets.

Free the Files Teams Up with Huffington Post to Unlock Political Ads in Swing States

In our ever-expanding quest to Free the Files, ProPublica is teaming up with Huffington Post in Denver, Detroit, Miami and Washington, D.C. to unlock campaign spending.

Four Ways Ohio and Others Have Toughened Voting Rules

It's not just voter-ID laws. Learn what else states are doing that has gotten heat.

Free the Files Volunteers Unlock $160 Million in Ad Buys in First Week

In the seven days since werebooted Free The Files, nearly 350 people have “freed” a political ad contract from the Federal Communications Commission database, unlocking more than $160 million in ad spending by 325 groups in more than 30 swing markets.

Dark Money Group Told IRS It Wouldn’t Be Political—Then Spent $1 Million on Campaign Ads

New details emerge about the Government Integrity Fund, which has run ads attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown in the Ohio U.S. Senate race.

Get a Free the Files Widget

11 Key Reads on the Economy Ahead of Tonight’s Debate

With the economy on the debate schedule tonight, we've rounded up some of the best coverage of the critical economic issues in the presidential election.

What We Still Don’t Know About Mitt Romney’s Taxes

Romney released his 2011 tax return and other information recently. So what else is there to know?

Free the Files: Help ProPublica Unlock Political Ad Spending

Outside groups are spending millions of dollars hoping to influence political campaigns – but they're hard to track down. Detailed information about spending is locked in documents filed at TV stations across the country. Help us uncover this spending by reviewing documents.

Dark Money Poured Into New Mexico Senate Contest

An analysis of newly available TV station political ad files shows how groups that don’t have to report their donors played a major role in one race for an open U.S. Senate seat

Search Political Ad Files from the FCC

Search political ad files published by the Federal Communications Commission.

Free the Files: Help Reveal Dark Money in the Election

Today, we’re rebooting Free the Files with a new tool to help uncover outside spending in the final days of the campaign.

Adelson: My Casino is Being Investigated Because I Oppose Obama

Sheldon Adelson told Politico his company, Las Vegas Sands, is being targeted because of his political activity.

New Details Emerge About Dark Money Group in Ohio U.S. Senate Race

A former aide to Republican candidate Josh Mandel reportedly did work for the Government Integrity Fund.

Finders Weepers: Early Bain Disputes Cast New Light on Its Business

Romney's private equity firm battled with brokers, also asked them to find healthy companies, not just turnarounds.

Revealed: The Dark Money Group Attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown

Documents show an Ohio lobbyist chairs an opaque group, the Government Integrity Fund, which has spent over $1 million on pro-GOP ads in the key Senate contest.

Mitt Romney’s Tax Mysteries: A Reading Guide

We lay out the questions raised by Romney's tax disclosures, and what we still don't know.

How an Obscure Federal Rule Could Be Shaking Up Presidential Politics

Federal rules that forbid employees of Wall Street firms from giving money to certain state officials running for federal office if the firms do business with that state helped knock New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie out of contention for a spot on the GOP ticket, according to the New York Post.

Campaign Email Overload? We’ve Got a Website for That

The political conventions are upon us, and with them a new flood of campaign emails. ProPublica debuts a new campaign emails Tumblr.

Top 13 Questions From Our Q&A on Dark Money in the 2012 Campaign

What's a 501(c)(4)? How do you cover a nonprofit whose address is a PO box? Can we stop the flood of dark money in politics? It's all in here.

No Tax Returns for You, Dark Money Groups Say

Some politically oriented social-welfare nonprofits dodged ProPublica’s requests for IRS filings or refused to provide them as required

Akin Controversy Stirs GOP: Where Do Republicans Stand on Abortion Exemption?

Akin clings to Senate nomination, as his party scrambles to limit damage.

Ask Kim Barker Anything About Campaign Finance (a Reddit Chat)

ProPublica reporter Kim Barker will be your guide to all things campaign finance this Thursday on Reddit from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Political or Not? You Be the Judge

A look at several advertisements put out by nonprofits that reported no election spending during the same time period.

Dark Money: Methodology

How we calculated the numbers in our Dark Money application.

How Nonprofits Spend Millions on Elections and Call it Public Welfare

Some tax-exempt groups underreported their political activities in 2010 to the IRS, ProPublica finds, using tactics that are being used to pour dark money into campaigns on an even larger scale this year.

Two Dark Money Groups Outspending All Super PACs Combined

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by the Koch brothers, have put almost $60 million so far into ads to influence the presidential race, an analysis of new spending estimates shows.

Campaign Ads and the 2012 Election: Join Our Google Plus Chat

How exactly do campaigns define and track voters? How much do they really know about us? And what privacy issues does it raise? Join us for a live discussion of campaign ads in the 2012 election this Friday on Google Plus.

Pandora Asks Listeners to Share Their Emails With Romney

The request comes via a campaign ad on the popular music site.

Is Your Neighbor a Democrat? Obama Has an App for That

A new mobile app puts public information about voters at your fingertips.

Political Ad Data Comes Online — But It’s Not Searchable

The new system is a big step forward for those seeking to understand campaign ad spending, but it’s far from perfect.

Help Us Find Out How Politicians Are Targeting You Online

New Questions About Sheldon Adelson’s Casino Operations in Macau

Las Vegas Sands has insisted for more than a year that it needed approval from Macau authorities to turn over documents to federal investigators and a former employee. Now, the company owned by the biggest single GOP donor acknowledges that many of the documents have been in the U.S. all along.

Dark Money Political Groups Target Voters Based on Their Internet Habits 

Dark money groups are using sophisticated online targeting tactics. Voters may never know they’re being targeted.

Graphic: Who are the Super PACs’ Biggest Donors?

An interactive chart showing the share of all contributions given by the top ten donors to each of the 12 largest super PACs.

Explore Hundreds of Campaign Emails in the Message Machine

Today we're opening up the political campaign emails we have collected from our readers.

Emails on Alves’ Employment and Payment

Inside the Investigation of Leading Republican Money Man Sheldon Adelson

In just a few years, the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands created a gambling empire in Macau that made him one of the world’s richest men. Now, Sheldon Adelson’s business methods are under expanding scrutiny by federal and Nevada investigators.

Broadcasters Make Emergency Motion to Block Transparency Rule

The National Association of Broadcasters, an industry group representing television stations around the country, is asking a court to block the implementation of a new rule that will put political ad information online before it goes into effect next month.

How Mitt Romney Followed Me Around the Internet

Romney's campaign is using the same ad targeting tactics as airlines and shoe stores.

Political Ad Transparency Rule Clears Another Hurdle

Over the objection of broadcasters, the Office of Management and Budget OKs measure to put political ad information on the Internet.

Republicans Back Down On Effort to Defund Transparency Rule

A House committee drops legislation that would have blocked an FCC rule to put political ad data online.

Message Machine Update: A Cameo by Sheldon Adelson

On Saturday the Obama campaign sent an email to supporters mentioning Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul who has donated millions to Republican super PACs.

Media Companies Make Yet Another Push to Defang Transparency Rule

Broadcasters file a petition with the FCC to water down a new political ad disclosure rule.

Message Machine: Dinner at Sarah Jessica Parker’s House

Last Monday, the Obama campaign sent out an email about a dinner with the President at Sarah Jessica Parker's house this coming Thursday. We received 7 versions of it.

How Microsoft and Yahoo Are Selling Politicians Access to You

The personal information you gave Microsoft or Yahoo may be used to target you with online ads.

Republicans Vote to Block Transparency on Political Ads

Language in appropriations bill would block funding for an FCC rule to put political ad data online.

Help Us Track How Politicians Target You

Political campaigns are using increasingly sophisticated methods to target messages to voters, methods that are not at all transparent. We need your help to uncover and understand them.

New Disclosure Rules for Political Ads Could Take Months

Under a new Federal Communications Commission rule, political ad data showing election spending could be posted online as early as July — or much later.

Broadcasters Sue to…Block Transparency

The National Association of Broadcasters argue that the FCC's new rule requiring the posting of political ad data is "arbitrary" and "capricious."

Donations to Scott Walker Flagged as Potential Fraud

A woman in upstate New York is surprised to find a contribution to the Wisconsin governor's campaign on her credit card.

FCC-Required Political Ad Data Disclosures Won’t Be Searchable

The FCC vote on Friday mandating broadcaster disclosure comes with caveats.

Broadcasters’ Last-Ditch Push to Hide Political Ad Data

Media giants are scrambling to water down a proposed FCC rule on disclosure that will be voted on Friday.

Public Files? Not On A Student Budget

Students checking public files at TV stations in Cleveland encountered unaffordable fees and camera-shy employees.

Meet the Media Companies Lobbying Against Transparency

Corporations that own some of the country’s biggest news outlets are fighting an FCC measure to post political ad data on the Internet.

Read the Tax Returns From Karl Rove’s ‘Dark Money’ Group (Donors Still a Mystery)

The returns for nonprofit Crossroads GPS are the first glimpse of how much the group, which has spent millions on political ads, raised in 2010 and 2011.

Broadcasters Are ‘Against Transparency,’ Says FCC Chairman

Julius Genachowski criticizes TV stations for trying to keep political ad data off the Internet.

Behind Closed Doors, Broadcasters Battle Online Disclosure of Political Ad Buys

TV stations are taking their lobbying efforts directly to the FCC, which is expected to vote later this month on whether public data about what ads are bought, who bought them and for how much must be posted online.

The Return of CREEP

New FEC filings show 324 super PACs, including 159 with money and one named for the infamous fundraising committee embroiled in the Watergate scandal

Where Do FCC Members Stand on Posting TV Stations’ Political Ad Data?

TV stations have objected to an FCC proposal requiring them to put information about the political ads they broadcast online and a commission vote on the issue is set for April 27.

Pennsylvania: Help Keep TV Political Ads Transparent

We need Pennsylvanians to help us “Free the Files” on political ads ahead of the April 24 primary.

Campaign Ads: How To Free the Files at Your TV Station

Whether you work for a news organization or not, we’re asking for help posting public data detailing what super PACs are spending on political ads. Here’s how to do it.

Ron Paul Is Really Serious About Transparency

Unlike other candidates, Paul’s campaign reports the smallest expenses, even the 12 cents at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Campaign Spending Shows Political Ties, Self-Dealing

So far, top super PACs and presidential candidates have spent more than $306 million in ways that hint at potential coordination. In some cases, this could violate FEC rules. 

Three Things We Don’t Know About Obama’s Massive Voter Database

President's Obama campaign is collecting detailed data about its supporters. The campaign just won't talk about it.

Help Us Track Political Ads In Wisconsin

Local TV stations hold key information on political ads — accessible only by visiting the station. We need people in Wisconsin to help.

A Tangled Web: Who’s Making Money From All This Campaign Spending?

Many have been detailing the vast sums being raised by the presidential candidates and the super PACs supporting them. But where are all those millions being spent?

Untangling a Web of FEC Data

Our Tangled Web graphic shows the 200 biggest recipients of expenditure money from the five major presidential campaigns (Gingrich, Obama, Paul, Romney and Santorum), as well as from major super PACs, from around the middle of 2011 through February, 2012.

A Tangled Web: Who’s Making Money From All This Campaign Spending?

If TV Stations Won’t Post Their Data on Political Ads, We Will

TV stations are fighting efforts to put their public data on political advertisements online. So we’re doing it for them.

Could Corporations Take Tax Breaks on Political ‘Dark Money’?

Businesses may be able to use undisclosed, unlimited donations to save on their taxes.

When the GOP Tried to Ban Dark Money

For a brief moment a decade ago, it was Republicans who wanted disclosure of anonymous political donations that Democrats now decry.

Reverse-Engineering Obama’s Message Machine

How different are a campaign's emails to different voters? President Obama's re-election campaign tried at least six different messages sent on behalf of campaign deputy manager Julianna Smoot in an email blast last week.

Message Machine: “You Probably Don’t Know Janet”

Campaigns are increasingly tailoring their messages — and their funding requests — using massive databases of personal information about potential voters.

CPAC Tips: How to Win Friends and Influence

Panels and parties at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference provided a window into how the pros are raising unlimited, undisclosed money this election cycle.

With Spotlight on Super PAC Dollars, Nonprofits Escape Scrutiny

Super PAC filings for 2011 reveal few surprises in identifying contributors: Unions give to Democrats, while businesses back Republicans. Much less is known about the social-welfare nonprofits that might play a big role in the election.

In the Gusher of Super PACs, Even One Named ‘The Internet’

Super PACs with similar-sounding names, satirical motives or undeclared aims are setting the stage for voter confusion in the months ahead. A super PAC called “a SuperPAC”? No kidding.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Jon Huntsman and His Record

Jon Huntsman's divergence on some core Republican issues has given him the labels of "moderate" and "second-tier." But the former ambassador to China has also earned conservative praise when it comes to guns and taxes.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Rick Santorum and His Record

The best reading on former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum to help you cut through the horse-race coverage and get oriented.

FEC Deadlocks (Again) on Guidance for Big-Money Super PACs

Can an ad that's "fully coordinated" with a candidate count as uncoordinated spending by a supposedly independent group? The FEC commissioners bickered but couldn't collectively decide.

Uncoordinated Coordination: Six Reasons Limits on Super PACs Are Barely Limits at All

The Supreme Court made it legal for corporations and unions to spend unlimited money on elections so long as they don't 'coordinate' with candidates. So why does everyone seem to be coordinating?

Super PAC Man Gobbles Up Regulators’ Time, Patience

A Florida man has flooded the FEC with filings for a new kind of political action committee, showing how easy it is to create them and how few rules there are.

FEC Data Show Big Jump in Spending by Super PACs and Outside Groups

More money is coming into U.S. politics, and much of it is flowing in through new and barely regulated groups.

As Political Groups Push Envelope, FEC Gridlock Gives ‘De Facto Green Light’

In a new age of more dollars and less disclosure, the FEC’s ongoing stalemate over key areas of campaign finance gives more aggressive political players a chance to push the limits.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Herman Cain

Want a feel for what The Hermanator Experience™ is all about? Start here.

Rick Perry v. ‘Rick Parry’: A Study in Pushing Campaign Finance Frontiers

Both Stephen Colbert—who's pretending to support a fake candidate, Rick Parry—and supporters of the real Rick Perry have started nonprofit groups that can channel unlimited donations to super PACs with minimal disclosure.

What Is Obama’s Actual Record on Creating Jobs?

President Obama has promised to focus on jobs. But what has he done to create jobs so far? Here’s a look at his record.

Our Handy Guide to the Best Coverage on Gov. Rick Perry and His Record

The best reading on Texas Gov. Rick Perry to help you cut through the horse-race coverage and get oriented.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on President Obama and the Economy

In our first candidate guide on President Obama, we examine his record on the economy and cite some of the best reading on how his initiatives to create jobs, help homeowners, and shore up the financial system have fared thus far.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Newt Gingrich and His Record

Newt Gingrich is struggling to make a political comeback after his spectacular fall a decade ago. Here's some of the best coverage of his political career and record.

Candidates Increasingly Connected to Supposedly Independent PACs

Many of the 2012 presidential hopefuls have close ties to Super PACs, new political action committees that can raise unlimited money in support of a candidate, but are supposed to operate independently.

2012 Presidential Campaign Reading Guides

Here are our guides to the best reading on the presidential candidates. We've picked through the day-to-day coverage to help give you a sense of the candidates' actual record.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Mitt Romney and His Record

Beyond RomneyCare: A rundown of some of the best reading on Mitt Romney's background and record.

Our Guide to the Best Coverage on Rep. Michele Bachmann and Her Record

A rundown of the stories you need to read about Rep. Michele Bachmann. She has held the title of Tea Party favorite thus far in the campaign, but what about her actual record?

Our Guide to the Best Coverage of Ron Paul and His Record

Ron Paul’s tiny-government ideals have become increasingly relevant. Here's our guide to some of the best reading on the Texas congressman.

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