Campaign Finance

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Watching the news or reading your daily news paper is a reminder that we are deep in election season. Among critical issues such as the environment, immigration, and the economy, another hot button topic among candidates is campaign finance.

Campaign finance refers to how money is raised for election campaigns. Some have concerns that how a candidate raises their money could effect the type of legislation they pass and how they lead. This concern is based on the fear that more money from one person or organization may translate into more expected political favors from the candidate if elected. This concern is one of the many reasons why campaign finance records are public records.

The Federal Election Committee (FEC) maintains a searchable online database which discloses who is giving to whom, and how much. Several search options are available, including searches for contributions made by individuals, contributions received or made by committees, and contributions received by a campaign. The search results show the contributor’s name, dollar amount, date of contribution, and a link to the FEC contribution document.

Although the current focus may be on the presidential election, campaign finance records are also available for local campaigns. The locations of, and access to, campaign finance records for local elections vary by state. However, in most states, this information can be found with the Secretary of State. Many states, such as California, New Hampshire, and Virginia, provide online access to campaign finance records.

To find where your state’s campaign finance records are located, visit the Free Public Records Directory. The Free Public Records Directory provides links to campaign finance information by state. Simply click on your state of interest, then select “Voter and Election Records in the drop-down category box.ï ¿ ½

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