Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
What does "Pay-to-Play" mean?
"Pay-to-Play" refers to laws or rules meant to prohibit monetary contributions from influencing governmental decisions. The rules were created to prevent kickbacks to big campaign donors. For instance, see this recent enforcement action:
According to a July 10, 2018, SEC ruling, three associates of a leading private equity firm (the "PE Firm"), made nominal campaign contributions to candidates for elected office in California and Rhode Island between September 2014 and April 2016. The contributions ranged from $500 and upwards to $1,400.
It was determined the candidates were running for offices having influence over selecting investment advisers for public pension plans in those states. (source)
How Can I Request a Demo?
To request a demo, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will get back to you within 24 hours with a time and date to demo the product.
How do you get this data?
We use public data sets provided by each individual state via their online database, when available. We then harmonize the data, to make it conform to a master template of fields frequently available in public data sets. We parse name and address fields using natural language processing tools when necessary. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the data. We receive the data within 24 hours of it posting to the public data set in most circumstances. Some states like South Dakota still report via paper documents, so we process this information via optical character recognition tools.
Are there any states where the data is not available?
Generally no, but we do have connection issues from time to time as states reporting standards change.
How often is the data updated?
Updates vary wildly from state to state. California dumps its entire database nightly, some states just update periodically during election season. We've found that the larger the state in population terms, the better the reporting is. We attempt to scan and download data from each state daily to update our database with the most up-to-date data. Visit our statistics page to see what information we can provide.
Can minors contribute to political campaigns?
The short answer is yes.
110.19 Contributions by minors.
An individual who is 17 years old or younger (a Minor) may make contributions to any candidate or political committee that in the aggregate do not exceed the limitations on contributions of 11 CFR 110.1, if -
(a) The decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by the Minor;
(b) The funds, goods, or services contributed are owned or controlled by the Minor, such as income earned by the Minor, the proceeds of a trust for which the Minor is the beneficiary, or funds withdrawn by the Minor from a financial account opened and maintained in the Minor's name; and
(c) The contribution is not made from the proceeds of a gift, the purpose of which was to provide funds to be contributed, or is not in any other way controlled by another individual.
Can I have full access to the database?
Due to state privacy laws, we do not allow access to the database. We simply provide queries against the database as a service for our clients. Most states do not allow this data to be sold for commercial purposes. We simply provide political contribution surveillance and monitoring as a service. We can provide API access to integrate with HR and external compliance systems.
Why don't I see my most recent US Senate contributions?
Senators have regularly used arcane procedural rules to stop proposals to require that senators also file electronically. So unlike everyone else, senators and Senate candidates file their reports on paper -- computer printouts, actually. The FEC then hires an outside contractor to re-type all those printouts back into the computer. The bottom line: during the busy fall campaign season, it typically takes about six weeks for the Senate's contribution data to reach the web where the public can see it.