Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (http://www.ballot.org/)
Western States Center project that tracks ballot initiatives around the country. State-by state information – including how to qualify a ballot initiative in your state and by issue – is available under “By the Ballot” section. In the “Ballot Funding” section you can find out who is funding particular ballot initiatives. Resources section has archived articles on ballot initiatives, bibliography, consultants, and links to organizations and publications. Recently added features include national ballot measure highlights organized by issue. You can also sign up for their email bulletin.
Campaign Finance Information Center (http://www.campaignfinance.org/)
A project of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. Much of the site is accessible only to members ($50 annually for those in journalism fields), but anyone can access their searchable database of campaign finance news stories. It’s not linked on the main page, but it is available at http://www.campaignfinance.org/background.html. Click on “Campaign Finance Stories”, then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “search.” You can search for stories on a particular candidate or issue to find out what reporters have already dug up and which reporters are already interested. Look in the Resources section as well, under Useful Links, for a list of sites offering state campaign finance data. For each state they note whether the state puts their campaign finance data online, and if the state makes it searchable or offers it for download.
Center for Public Integrity (http://www.publicintegrity.org/)
Focus is on “public service journalism,” publishes investigative reports and books, many of which deal with money & politics and include on-line searchable data. Features include a searchable (by zip code) database of who owns local radio, television and cable, (click on the “Well Connected” icon) as well as ongoing coverage of presidential election campaign financing issues (“Buying of the President 2004” in the resources section). The website now features “Investigations” and a series of databases under “Research Tools”.
* Center for Responsive Politics (http://www.opensecrets.org/)
Industry section has 80 different industry profiles, with campaign contributions going back ten years. On the candidate side, CRP has profiles for every single Senate and House race, as well as the presidential race. The site includes lobbyist and soft money databases in the Who’s Giving section, and searchable full text archives of various CRP publications (Monday Morning Alert, Capital Eye, etc.). Also has contact information for locating state campaign contributions, and good overviews of campaign finance reform. If you can’t find what you want, they offer custom research and data for modest fees.
Common Cause (http://www.commoncause.org/)
Reports on links between campaign contributions and legislation. Find articles under the tab called”Research Center”, located in the bottom right side of main page. Use the searchable database to find Soft Money contributions and contributions to parties’ national committees.
MapLight is a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization tracking money and politics in U.S. Congress and California and Wisconsin. The organization publishes a free public database linking together money and politics data sources, including campaign contributions to politicians, how politicians vote on bills, and support and opposition to legislation. MapLight uses an in-house research team plus data sources including the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the Center for Responsive Politics, and Govtrack.
Democracy Matters (http://www.democracymatters.org/)
Democracy Matters informs and engages college students and communities, focusing on strengthening democracy and the role of private money in elections. They have campus-based chapters and paid student organizing internships throughout the country. The website includes downloadable resources from flyers to press advisories to graphics, as well as suggestions for classroom resources for teachers, all related to money and politics.
Follow the Money (http://www.followthemoney.org)
National Institute on Money in State Politics website. Reports and searchable database on campaign contributions at the state election level (not federal offices). Can search across states and by issue for contributors as well as by candidate. One of few sites with state-level contributions information in one place. Site tutorials help users build effective searches and reports.
This non-FEC site – Political Money Line – provides extensive Federal Election Commission raw data quickly. It is good for looking up campaign contributions to federal candidates and the major national parties (soft money). There are several search options, including by individual contributor, occupation (employer) and Political Action Committee spending (by sector or specific PAC). Recently added features include national party summary figures, and “disbursements” database can be unwieldy but does provide information on how much campaign committees spent on particular types of activities. Some databases are free, others searchable by paid subscribers only. There is a hefty fee to access soft money and lobbyist information. (see Center for Responsive Politics for free versions).
Project Vote Smart (http://www.votesmart.org/)
Voting records, campaign finance data, issue positions, interest group ratings, public statements and contact information on all 2004 federal candidates as well as the president and current members of congress. Amounts received by current office holders from specific interest groups, such as agriculture, are shown back to the late 1980’s. Similar information on state legislators, governors and non-incumbent candidates. Has a section under: Government & Politics, Issues—Research the Issues—that provides background on an issue with links to progressive and conservative advocacy organizations working on that issue. They also provide links to Think Tanks and Research Institutes.
Public Campaign (http://www.publicampaign.org/)
Provides links to publications and public interest groups that are involved in campaign finance reform, as well as reports on the issue. Has full text archive of their frequent email bulletin linking contributions to legislative activity (which you can subscribe to). Recently revamped website has a new look, but same content. The new Color of Money project uses campaign contribution statistics and legislative results to show how communities of color and the poor are severely underrepresented because of their inability to keep pace with the campaign contributions from wealthier, non-minority communities. You can search the data used to generate the report to see campaign contributions by ethnicity and neighborhood.
StateNet monitors pending bills and regulations in the 50 states and Congress as well as campaign contributions for state level offices going back several years. There is a monthly subscription fee of several hundred dollars, depending on how many services you want. (We subscribe to StateNet for California at the DataCenter).
Congressional web site that tracks bills (with full text and amendments, voting record), committee members and reports links to state and municipal governments. Includes full text of public laws back to 1973, and full text of bills from 1989 (see “about Thomas” for more on historical coverage).
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers (http://fpc.state.gov/)
See what your Congresspersons are reading about campaign finance reform. Click on “Reports” to access the Congressional Research Service’s briefs and browse by date, by region, or by topic.
Updated March 2012. Please send website corrections to datacenter[at]datacenter.org.