by Max Brantley
Yes, absolutely. The New York Times editorializes today in favor of a national database on political ad spending. Federal law now requests stations to open books on spending, but it is a laborious process.
A national database would make all the spending instantly available and searchable.
Anyone could know, by hitting their home computer, which groups were spending how much for which candidates.
I'm reminded again of the little-known fact that a fellow from Arkansas who went on later to a new residence in federal prison pumped $145,000 into ads in the South Carolina presidential primary in 2008 in support of favorite son Mike Huckabee. It came to light last week by utter happenstance.
The databases would shed more sunlight sooner where it sometimes doesn't penetrate at all.
Major media companies are howling about the supposed burden of this proposed rule from the Federal Communications Commission, which will vote today.
But why stop at the federal level? Let's require this in state races, too. What say Republican Party? Here's another good government idea — such as the Regnat Populus 2012 campaign — to which you could devote your growing strength and convince some people that you really do care about more than lower taxes and a litany of conservative religion social issues. (OK, there could be obstacles to state-mandated reporting, as opposed to FCC mandates, but we sure could have better on-line and searchable databases than are currently available in Arkansas for both candidates and issues.)