New website tracks rise of independent money in NC politics

Here’s the press release from the Institute for Southern Studies

FollowNCMoney.org offers first searchable database of outside spending in state races

DURHAM (July 26, 2012) — With election spending in 2012 on a record-shattering pace, a new website aims to track the dramatic rise of money flowing from independent groups into North Carolina state politics.

FollowNCMoney.org, a project of the nonprofit Institute for Southern Studies, is North Carolina’s first searchable database of election-year spending by “outside” groups not officially tied to a candidate or party.

“Money spent by independent groups is having a huge impact on North Carolina politics, but until now there hasn’t been an easy way to track its influence at the state level,” said Chris Kromm, director of the Durham, N.C.-based Institute. “FollowNCMoney.org will be a valuable resource for helping the public understand who’s spending money and where it’s going.”

While federal super PACs have received widespread attention, FollowNCMoney.org is one of the first efforts nationally to comprehensively track the role of independent money in state-level races.

TV ads, mailers and other independent expenditures by outside groups are the fastest-growing stream of election-year spending, in part fueled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision which expanded the ability of corporations and other groups to spend money on politics.

FollowNCMoney.org gathers reports on all independent money targeting state-level races in N.C. Users can sort the information by the name of the group spending the money, the date of expenditure, the political race being targeted and the affected candidate.

In 2010, North Carolina was a case study in the growing influence of outside election spending, with more than $2.6 million spent on N.C. legislative races by 11 independent groups. That year, outside money benefited Republican candidates by a 10-to-1 margin, aiding the GOP’s historic wins in the N.C. General Assembly.

In 2012, with North Carolina boasting a marquee governor’s race and both parties again vying for control of the legislature, outside spending appears to be on pace to eclipse 2010 levels. To date, FollowNCMoney.org has identified more than 150 expenditures totalling more than $2.5 million.

Due to several gaps and inconsistencies in how independent groups report their spending, FollowNCMoney.org is launching as a beta release, and asking users to help “crowdsource” the site with tips on groups and expenditures that may be missing, eliminating duplicate records and adding other useful information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Chris Kromm, Executive Director of the Institute for Southern Studies, 919-419-8311, chris@southernstudies.org

VISIT THE WEBSITE BETA RELEASE: www.FollowNCMoney.org

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: www.twitter.com/FollowNCMoney

FOR BACKGROUND ON THE SITE AND BETA LAUNCH: bit.ly/ncmoney


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