CounterPAC Starts Running TV Ads Dissing 'Dark Money'

Not only are TV outlets benefitting from so called "dark money" spending on political ads, but from activists opposed to that spending.

CounterPAC, a new SuperPAC trying to convince candidates to reject ads funded by outside groups who do not have to identify their funders, said it has made its first TV time buy in Georgia and Alaska to try and get the candidates to take the pledge to "reject all secret money spent on their behalf."

A spokesperson for the group said the buys were five-figures, but not high-five figures. The goal was to prompt the conversation, not flood the airwaves, they said, but there will likely be more TV buys in what was described as the next wave of advocacy.

"If the 2014 election follows recent patterns, spending from outside groups is only likely to increase as the election approaches," said CounterPAC in announcing the new ads. "During the 2012 election, 83 percent of outside spending took place after August 1st."

To check out one of the ads, click here.

Some tech entrepreneurs and campaign reform activists launched CounterPAC last month, signaling they would be targeting those two states, among others. So far, no candidate has agreed to take the pledge. It already had print ads running in Georgia, Alaska and West Virginia since late past month.

Ever since the Supreme Court lifted the limits on corporation and union funding of electioneering ads in the run-ups to federal general elections and primaries (the Citizens United case), election reform advocates have been trying to force greater disclosure of the funding of ads from PACs and other third-party groups, whose so-called "dark money" they say is taking over elections.

Were the CounterPAC campaign to succeed, it could cut into TV's political ad take, which has gotten a boost from the influx of new money, both "dark" and light. But with no pledge takers and ad buys to counter the dark money, it currently means more money in station coffers.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.