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Ever watched a political ad and wondered who was paying for it? Thanks to our friends at the Sunlight Foundation, David just got another useful addition to his toolkit for taking down Goliath.   Before Ad Hawk, you had to wait for someone to do the investigative reporting and that was not available until well after the ads have aired.  Well now the Sunlight Foundation (more about them below) has developed a cool mobile app called Ad hawk.

Ad Hawk is a free mobile app that allows you to identify political ads as they air and immediately learn about who is behind them. Want to know who is spending money to influence your vote? The app provides valuable contextual information about the candidate, super PAC and issues ads airing on TV and radio this election year.
That's right --- not only can you interface with their  extensive database while the ad is running but this is just one of many FREE powerful apps these guys have developed.

You can download the app for android or iPhone by clicking this download Ad Hawk link.

Here's how it works:

Who is the Sunlight Foundation?
As they say on their web site:

The Sunlight Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike. We are committed to improving access to government information by making it available online, indeed redefining “public” information as meaning “online,” and by creating new tools and websites to enable individuals and communities to better access that information and put it to use.
I worked with them briefly when they visited the Occupy DC encampment at McPherson Square.   What impresses me about this non-profit is how tech savvy they are and how nimble they are.  Here are some of their other projects:

Follow the Unlimited Money:

This resource is a searchable database  of all independent expenditure-only committees (better known as super PACs) that have raised at least $10,000 since the beginning of 2011.  So far, they have tracked something like a quarter of a BILLION dollars in money. Clicking on individual PACs gives you breakdowns of their spending, including aggregate amounts spent supporting or opposing individual candidates, and a chronological list of all their individual independent expenditure filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Influence Explorer

This searchable database offers regularly updated campaign finance data straight from the Federal Election Commission provides up-to-date fundraising information for all federal candidates.  You can also search by source or candidate.

Checking Influence

This resource (yet another searchable database) find out how companies you do business with every day are wielding political influence through lobbying and campaign contributions. Checking Influence helps you be an informed consumer and citizen.

Just add Checking Influence to your bookmarklet bar and then go to any web page that has bank transactions (wherever you do online banking, like your banking site, credit card site, or Then, just click on the Checking Influence bookmarklet in your toolbar.

Checking Influence will find the company names in your list of banking transactions and show you the “influence data” for the corporations it can identify — including political campaign contributions and what lobbying the corporation conducted.

Here's why I love these guys
They don't just provide strong tools that pull back the curtain on the oligarchs.  They are mindful of protecting our privacy while empowering us.  Here is their privacy statement for people using Checking Influence:

To ensure that we respect your privacy, we are very careful not to store any information about your bank transactions that could possibly be personally identifiable. In order to function, Checking Influence needs to transmit names that it has pulled out of your bank transactions to our server to match them against corporations, but nothing else (no dates, addresses, amounts, etc.) is sent to us. The names are cleaned to ensure that there is nothing sensitive or personally identifiable in them. All connections to the Checking Influence server are made using industry-standard SSL – the same technology that your banking site uses to ensure the privacy of your data.
News Junkies will love this tool: Poligraft.

Just drag the URL of an article you are browsing online over their applet and you can see connections between money and politics in news articles you read everyday.  You can also use it in blog posts and press releases to get enhanced views of people, organizations, and relationships described in the article.

Those are just a few of the amazing tools many FREE tools available at the Sunlight Foundation.  Visit their site and look at the other stuff they offer.

Are you technically adept and looking for work?
Here's some additional good news:  They are hiring.  Not all the positions require you to be a coder, so don't be shy.  I am sure they would love to hear from you.

Originally posted to 8ackgr0und N015e on Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 03:33 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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