Thursday, October 16, 2008

Independent Campaign Ads

In Wisconsin Right to Life vs. FEC (2007) the Supreme Court allowed the FEC to regulate "electioneering" ads by groups not affiliated with a campaign under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002), but set a very high bar for what might be considered an electioneering ad. Essentially, the court argued that when it comes to political speech, when the choice is between free speech and censorship, the court will side with speech. This has allowed unregulated money to be spent by groups that are not affiliated with a political campaign or a political party on campaign ads. If they spend regulated money, or Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions, they have more freedom to explicitly advocate for a candidate. Sometimes, is is hard to tell the difference. See if you can tell. Here are some examples on independent expenditures from this years election:

Go to and click on "media" to watch their ad.

Here is an ad by

Here is an ad by the Service Employees International Union:

Here is an ad from

Here is an ad from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce about Al Franken, the Democratic candidate for the US Senate.

To see more campaign ads, go to this YouTube channel:

Update: The New York Times released an excellent tool that helps you analyze the money being spent on campaign ads. It has a map with a visual representation showing where the money is being spent. If you're curious about where any of the above ads are being run, you can select them from the scroll down menu.

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