With this year's election cycle shaping up to be the most expensive in American history, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) introduced new legislation to hold Super PACs, campaigns, and other organizations accountable for the claims made in their political advertisements. The Campaign Sunlight Act amends the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971 to require the sponsors of political advertisements to make the contents and sources of information used in television, print, and other type of ads available to the FEC for a publicly accessible "Campaign Accountability" website. Congressman Deutch's legislation also grants the FEC authority to charge the sponsors of each advertisement a nominal fee in order to ensure the cost of administering the website is not left to taxpayers.
"If there is one issue that unites Americans of all political stripes, it is total disgust over the constant barrage of campaign attack ads that have become the norm in our elections since the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United," said Congressman Deutch. "Across the country but especially in swing states like Florida, voters are being bombarded during every trip to the mailbox or commercial break with wild accusations that turn them off from the political process all together. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and with so much shrouded in secrecy this election cycle, the very least we can do is require the sponsors of these advertisements to stand behind their claims. The Campaign Sunlight Act will insert some much needed transparency and accountability into our national dialogue by requiring the groups behind these ads to back up their claims in full to the Federal Election Commission."
While many outside groups do great work separating fact from fiction, there is simply no way they can keep up with the astounding number of mailers and attack ads landing in front of voters in races across the country. Between July 19th and July 22nd, over $19 million was spent on television ads alone and 99 percent were negative, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.
The Campaign Sunlight Act requires a sponsor of any communication referring to a clearly identified federal candidate within 12 months of an election to make available on the Campaign Accountability Site:
the full contents of political advertisements available for viewing in the same format through which the advertisement was disseminated, and
the full contents (or a hyperlink to the full contents) of any source referenced by quotation, article, or hyperlink in any statement made in the advertisement.
Sponsors of advertisements are required to submit this information 24 hours after the information is disseminated, in the case of an ad broadcast a week before an election, or 72 hours after an ad is broadcast during any other period.