Two top campaign finance watchdogs filed complaints on Thursday with the Federal Communications Commission against 11 broadcast news stations claiming that they failed to disclose sponsor information for political advertisements.
The Campaign Legal Center and the Sunlight Foundation named several NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox-affiliated local news stations in Charlotte, N.C.; Denver, Colo.; Detroit, Mich.; Durham, N.C.; Manchester, N.H.; Miami, Fla.; Minneapolis, Minn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Tampa, Fla.
After reviewing the stations’ political files, the campaign transparency advocates found that the stations had not been following legally required disclosure rules and had failed to publicly list the candidate to which the ad refers, the issue, and the CEO or board of directors of the sponsor.
“These files are often the only way we can track political activities and spending by dark money groups that aren’t required to disclose those activities with the Federal Election Commission,” said Sunlight Foundation Managing Editor Kathy Kiely.
The watchdogs said the broadcast stations failed to name major fundraising groups sponsoring political advertisements including, Americans for Prosperity, The House Majority PAC, Senate Majority PAC, National Republican Congressional Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and American Crossroads.
“While it is great that the FCC required stations to make their public inspection files available online, the FCC must now act to ensure that television stations are uploading the required information so that the public can be informed,” said Angela Campbell, director of the Institute for Public Representation.