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Free the Files

Help Unlock Election Spending

Outside groups are spending hundreds of millions to influence the coming elections. Help unlock outside spending by “freeing” political ad buys from television stations in swing markets.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. Our goal is to increase transparency around these filings by sorting and annotating them with key data, making it easier to identify the groups buying these political ads.

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.

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.

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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

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.

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.

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