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Sunlight Expands Political File Search Tool

The Sunlight Foundation is celebrating the July 1 deadline for all TV stations to start posting their political files online.

In an e-mail to supporters Tuesday, it pointed out that its Political Ad Sleuth online tool will now allow them to search TV station ad buys by advertiser, date and state for over 2,000 stations, up from 230 top-four affiliates in the top 50 markets.

Sunlight points out that six hotly contested races are in states that don't have a top-50 TV market (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia), which are the ones that have already been posting their online political files per FCC rules.

"For the first time, people in communities across the country will have online access to documents detailing who is buying campaign commercials on their local station and how much money they’re spending to influence voters," said Sunlight. "Prior to today, these files were available only if you went in person to the station and requested to view the paper copies."