From January 21, 2016 note from Center for Public Integrity CEO Peter Bale.
Track the television battleground
TV is the big money battleground on which the political forces confront each other. Tracking how those ad dollars are spent and by whom gives a near-real-time picture of the campaign. It shows where big donors believe they can have the greatest impact. Public Integrity committed to tracking this by acquiring data from Kantar Media/CMAG. It’s been a rich vein of stories on who is buying ads where, which super-PACS are backing whom and which candidates are funding their own ads.
Our award-winning data journalist Chris Zubak-Skees has turned the data into a dynamic map which should be a reference point for anyone throughout the campaign to make the scale and focus of spending clear. It is a remarkable example of how data can efficiently and effectively tell a hard-to-grasp story. It is very clear who is spending where and why, even in these early days before the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. Over the year the map will fill out and become richer and richer. I encourage you to explore and bookmark Chris’ map. It’ll only get better. Here’s a "how to" guide.
Shining a light on dark money
Sitting beside the data work is the political team of Dave Levinthal, Michael Beckel and Carrie Levine.
Michael told the story of “dark money” well this week in a piece that was widely used by partners. It’s a simple piece explaining what on earth the Beltway crowd mean by dark money. Like an old primer on the Supreme Court Citizens United judgement by deputy executive editor John Dunbar, the dark money piece will run and run.
Another project from that team is Source Check and Cady Zuvich did a sharp job of pointing out some of the inconsistencies in what Bernie Sanders says about big money in politics, noting that Friends of the Earth is paying for pro-Bernie ads.
State Integrity has impact
At the state level, the one-year State Integrity Investigation led by Nick Kusnetz is still reverberating. New York governor Andrew Cuomo — whose state scored a D-minus in our investigation—called for big changes to ethics and campaign finance laws in the state. Last week AP reported that Vermont politicians – chagrined at their D-minus rating perhaps – considered new ethics legislation. In Washington State, attorney general Bob Ferguson proposed a bill to establish a one-year lobbying prohibition for former high-ranking state officials, citing State Integrity and the D-plus his state scored.