Follow the Unlimited Money

About this project

The Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group has put together a widget* -- updated in real time -- and a searchable database tracking organizations that are paying for ads and other forms of political communication.

This information is made available as it is reported to the Federal Election Commission, which is within 24 or 48 hours of the expenditure being made. The widget and database display recent independent expenditures and electioneering communications with details regarding the organization behind the spending, how much they spent and the approximate date when the ad was aired. The one difference between the two kinds of FEC disclosures is that organizations filing electioneering communications do not have to disclose whether they are running an ad in support of or in opposition to a candidate.

Users can also search the database by a specific race or by the name of a political committee. The data available is only partially standardized for duplicates and amendments filed later with the FEC. Also note that at times a single electioneering report filed lists multiple candidates featured in an ad and these have been listed separately.

The Reporting Group has been following closely the new developments in campaign finance in the post-Citizens United and SpeechNow world on the state level and the federal level. Citizens United opened the doors for corporations and labor unions to spend freely in support or in opposition to any candidate or issue as long as the spending is done independently of a campaign.

This led to political groups asking for permission from the FEC to receive unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations and labor unions and political groups were given the ability to receive unlimited contributions as long as they spent the money independent of candidate, giving rise to a quite of a few political organizations filing as "independent expenditure only" committees. Our 'Follow the Unlimited Money' database hones in on the newly-formed IE only committees that is listed here.

For users interested in downloading the independent expenditure data click here and for electioneering communication click here.

* Embeddable widget to come soon.