We’ve seen a few pretty intense politically themed advertisements hit the local television airwaves over the past week, including here at WHNT News 19.
They help us see a larger issue – a lack of information on who funds the commercial spots.
You can see it through a paid ad from the Foundation for Accountability in Education.
When it comes to this ad attacking the AEA, WHNT News 19 Political Analyst Jess Brown says it seems straight forward.
The ad appears to seek to tarnish the name of the Alabama Education Association, and more importantly, tarnish the candidates they support.
Brown says, “I think the ad is designed to put in the mind of the typical Republican voter that there’s a litmus test. If you agree with AEA on anything, you’re a liberal.”
That’s all fine and good though. The only problem is we don’t know who’s paying for it.
The ad says it’s the Foundation for Accountability in Education and gives a PO Box, but you can go through the state’s campaign finance system as much as you want. You won’t find any record of them getting or spending money.
State electioneering communications rules described by the Secretary of State’s office only require you to say who pays for the ad. They don’t require you to disclose where the money originated.
When we called the elections division at the Secretary of State’s office, they told us the only way you get to find out who donates to a group likes this is if they qualify as a Political Action Committee. Right now the Foundation for Accountability in Education does not.
We did contact the company that purchased the air time and the company that produced the ad to try to get in touch with anyone involved with the Foundation for Accountability in Education.
We have not been able to reach anyone directly associated with the group.