New Tools to Help Advocates with Campaign Finance Data
by Amanda Adams*, 4/9/2010
A new site, TransparencyData.com, is acclaimed as "a central source for all federal and state campaign contributions made in the last twenty years." The Sunlight Foundation teamed up with the National Institute on Money in State Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics, and by merging data from these groups, produced a new development in the availability of campaign finance data. The public will be able to search through and download data about political donors, lobbyists, and lawmakers that may shed light on policy discussions and legislative votes. A Sunlight Foundation blog discusses some of the various ways the new resource can be used.
In addition, the Center for Responsive Politics has created a new section on OpenSecrets.org dedicated to tracking independent political expenditures. "In each recent election cycle, hundreds of organizations together spent hundreds of millions of dollars in independent political expenditures that fueled advertisements and other communications supporting or opposing particular political candidates. And that was before the brave new world of the 2010 election cycle." Referencing the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, they expect a vast increase in the number of independent expenditures and the amount of money spent on such messages. Start exploring data on independent expenditures here.
The Campaign Finance Institute also used data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics to create an interactive tool, "Be A Citizen Policy Analyst." By selecting various changes to states' campaign finance laws, the tool will show you how those laws would impact political giving in the state. "In state after state, the tool shows that with only a few simple changes, the power of the small donor can transform the system."