There was some good news this week for transparency in campaign finance. On July 1, an FCC rule took effect that will make it easier to find out who is paying for political ads on television.
In the past TV stations were required to keep paper records and to produce them if the records were requested in person. That has now changed and the information is easily found through documents stored on the FCC site.
Here's why the new disclosure method matters more than you might think. Suppose you're running a political campaign. Beginning now, you're going to be able to sit at your computer and find out where your competition has been taking out ads, when they got them for and for how much money. That kind of information may have always been accessible if you were willing to travel to get it, but now you — or any citizen, for that matter — can find this stuff out from your computer.
This doesn't stop the money or the ads, but it does make it easier to keep track of who is paying for the ads we are bombarded with during election season.