ADVISORY: Good Government and Grassroots Groups Call on FEC to Take Action Against Secret Purchase of Online Political Ads

Washington, D.C. — Good government groups, grassroots organizations, and U.S. lawmakers on Thursday will call on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to establish new rules to prevent secret sponsors from buying online political advertisements.

The groups have gathered more than 100,000 signatures to submit to the FEC urging them to address the issue of secretive sponsorship of online campaign ads. Currently, internet communications are largely exempt from campaign finance disclosure requirements, allowing ad sponsors to disguise their identities and even offer campaign ads as misleading news stories. Disclaimers should be placed in the ads themselves, informing the public who has paid for them.

In an era when the internet plays a critical role in the political environment, new rules addressing these issues are critical and could help curtail foreign meddling in elections.

The comments come as bipartisan legislation is introduced in the U.S. Senate to pick up where the FEC has fallen short. The Honest Ads Act would require that sources of funding behind paid political ads to be disclosed to the public and would require large platforms such as Facebook and Google to work to ensure that campaign ads on their platforms are not purchased by foreign nationals.

November 9 is the deadline for comments to the FEC on the disclaimer rules. The groups will deliver the signatures to the FEC after the event.

WHAT:

Press conference calling on the FEC to prevent secret sponsors from buying online political ads

WHEN:

Thursday, November 9 at 11 a.m. EDT

WHERE:

Senate Swamp (east front of the Capitol building), Washington, D.C.

WHO:

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA)
Elizabeth Beavers, foreign policy manager, Indivisible Project
Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen (moderator)
Diallo Brooks, senior director of outreach and public engagement, People For the American Way
Steve Spaulding, chief of strategy and external affairs, Common Cause
Jessica Jones Capparell, interim senior director of advocacy, League of Women Voters
Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform, Center for American Progress

VISUALS:

There will be boxes with the groups’ logos representing the more than 100,000 signatures.

For more information or to speak to an expert at the Center for American Progress, please contact Sam Hananel at 202.478.6327, or shananel@americanprogress.org.