What is the Secret Money Project?
The Secret Money Project is a joint investigation by NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting, tracking the hidden cash in this election cycle.
But what do you mean by 'hidden cash?'
Well, remember the Swift Boat ad four years ago? This independently produced ad crippled Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
And, this year's crop of independent ads has the potential to be equally influential, powerful and possibly damaging. With changes in political strategies and campaign law, these groups could be more important than ever.
These groups don't have to disclose their donors and spending the same way the candidates do. Some don't have to disclose at all, hence "secret money."
What is the purpose of the blog?
This blog will feature independent ads that air in specific markets across the country (swing states, anyone?) and will allow you (the blog reader) to see the types of messages that your fellow voters do in other states.
Hopefully, by seeing the ads through this birds-eye view, we'll notice any patterns that may emerge — either through the types of themes explored in the ads, or the places that the groups chose to air them.
Of course, the blog will also feature news and analysis from NPR's Peter Overby, who covers power, money and influence. His reporter-in-crime, Will Evans of the Center for Investigative Reporting, will also contribute.
Can I contribute to this project?
Glad you asked — yes.
Contact us if you hear from any independent groups.
Tell us what group contacted you. How did they do it? Mail? E-mail? Ringing your doorbell? A phone call? What was the message? And which race did the ad focus on — Presidential? Senate? House? To clarify: We're tracking outside groups — not candidates or political parties — just independent groups such as MoveOn.org, AARP and unions, to name a few.
What about comments on the blog?
Comment away! But we do have a few rules — just check out our guidelines for comments.
You can also interact with The Secret Money Project through Twitter, a micro-blogging service. The project's updates can be found under the Twitter name nprsecretmoney.
Can I link to this blog and project?