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Campaign Contribution Expenditure Information

Navigating our Search Page

MDN provides you with ways to track how special interests are funding government and politics unequaled by any other web service.

If you're interested in finding out from where a public official is getting money, select from the following options at the bottom of the page, in this order:

  1. Office Year: This search option will be displayed only if you selected statewide or legislative officials in the in the Category selection (see below).

  2. Category: Select the category you wish to explore -- state officials, legislators, political committees, political parties, campaigns or a customized search.

    If, however, you select the Seek category you will be prompted to fill in information for a specific search by donor and/or recepient. See the Seek Searches section below.

  3. To, From or By: The selection will be filled in alphabetical order with the seperate committees fitting the category you selected that had some sort of financial activity reported for the search year (expenditures or contributions (received or given).

    For state officials (statewide office holders or legislators), only the official's name will be listed. But in the display of records found, the full name that offical's campaign committee will be displayed. A candidate can have only one campaign committee with financial activity, which a few exceptions such as a debt-service committee.

    For PACs and political parties, a shortened name will be displayed in the list. But like candidates, the full, official name registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission will be displayed. Only PACs and parties with financial activities reported in the In search year will be displayed.

    Once you have selected a particular official, the contributions received or given by that official/PAC automatically will be displayed. All of the contributions reported by that official's campaign committee(s) will be displayed at the top. Some officials have more than one campaign committee that were created during their time in office. MDN's database searches all of those committees.

    Some officials have such a large number of contributions that it can take a few seconds for the results to be displayed.

  4. In: Select the year for which you wish to see campaign contributions. We provide the ability to search prior years for an official because in an odd-numbered year, the bulk of the campaign contributions received will be in the prior year.

    Every year, there are dates for a financial activity for a different year than when the report was filed. That makes sense for quarterly reports filed January because those cover the final three months of the prior year. So reports with financial-activity dates of the prior year reports will be placed in MDN's prior-year database.

    However, we have several instances in which the financial transaction date is two or more years earlier or years in the future (which would seem impossible). Without a definitively way to determine the correct date, we've included these reports in the year in which the report filed (although the displayed transation date will NOT be changed).

  5. Search in: Select the financial database you want to search -- reports of contributions received, reports of contributions made or expenditures for the candidate, PAC or person selected.

    Note, that not every contribution received by a candidate will be in the contributions-given database. Individuals are not required to file reports on contributions they gave, no matter how large.

    And,a growing number of political committees are being formed under laws that let them keep their financial activities secret (what critics charge is "dark money"), although the candidate must disclose getting the contribution.

  6. Rank: If you would like to see how an official's or committee's contributions/spending compare with others, click on the Rank button. For officials, the list of officials ranked will be for the Office selected year for the financial information from the In selected year. For PACs and parties, the list will be those with financial reports for the In selected year.

Seek Searches

Searches for what you enter for the Recipient and Contributor are case insensitive. Records that contain what you have entered anywhere in that field will be displayed.

In other words, a search for "republican" for contributor will return records for any contributor with the word "REPUBLICAN" anywhere in the name and regardless whether the letters are in upper or lower case.

You must enter at least three characters for the contributor or recipient (one of those two fields can be empty. There is a limit of 500 records that will be displayed from this search, so you might want to narrow your search entry as much as possible.

The Search in option defines which of the three databases in which the search is to be conducted.

There is one particular advantage to using the seek search feature. When political candidates file their contributions received from political committees, they do not always identify the proper name of the contributor (See the note on Political Committees below). The name may have been misspelled, words abbreviated or simply an incorrect name entered for the name of a contributing committee.

Compounding the problem is that the MEC reports do not include the unique MEC ID for a committee that is listed the contributor. The only MEC ID that is included in a financial report is the ID of the committee filing the report (contributions that the committee got, contributions that the committee gave or the committee's expenditures).

With the Seek funtion, you can enter various alternatives for possible ways a committee was identified as a donor in contribution-received reports.

Obviously, this full-text seek feature is not particularly sophisticated. If you'd like more or expanded options, let us know.

Data Display

Once a specifical official/PAC is selected (or a full-search has been entered), the display window will show the specific reports that meet with the search criteria.

The items will be displayed in the order you choose by clicking one of the label buttons at the top of the display for each item of a report:

View the Entire MEC Report

To view the full report filed with the Missouri Elections Commission for a particular entry, simply double-click the entry.

That will pop up a display of every field in MEC's database for that contribution. The number of fields displayed and the labels will vary depending on whether the item is a contribution received, contribution made or an expense. For a recieved contribution, the seperate entires are:

Background

MDN's databases of contribution reports are constructed from information filed by campaign committees with the Missouri Ethics Commission (MEC). MEC has digital records going back to 2011.

Each filing includes the amount contributed, the source of the contribution and the date of the contribution expended. For a contribution by an individual (as opposed to a commitee or business, the report will include the contributor's employer (if any) and occupation.

The reports are filed by candidate committees and political action committees that make contributions to candidates. MEC aggrigates the reports into three large databases that are used by MDN (depending on your Search selection:

Political Committees

Several different types committees are required to register with the MEC, such as organizations spending or getting money to influence ballot issues and candidates with financial activities above certain amounts.

There are nine types of committees -- Campaign, Candidate, Debt Service, Exempt, Exploratory, Non-committee, Out of State, Political Action (PAC) and Party.

By 2017, More than 11,000 committees had registered with MEC at some point. But in any one year, only a fraction of those committees report any financial activity. In the 2016 election year, only 2,198 committees reported to the MEC financial activity. Most are candidate campaign committees and PACs. Those two committee types constuted 88 percent of all the campaign finance committees reporting financial activity in 2016.

In the current year, many of those 11,000+ committees have been terminated, but remain on MEC's list of registered committees. In earlier years, some of those committees simply had not yet been established.

In the Category selection dropdown, we have listed only PACs, Party and Campaign committees.

We get the list of candidate committees and a unique ID for each committee fom a central file of MEC. That file goes back to 2011 (and maybe earlier than that). However, the actual name used by a specific committee may have changed over the years.

For example, MEC's central list of party committees includes "Laclede County Republican Central Committee" and that's the name in 2017 financial reports. But in 2011, financial reports under that party committee's MEC ID were filed under the name "Republican Central Committee Laclede County."

Also, the drop-down list of names will have abbreviations to address the extremely names of some committees. For example, "Republican" will be replaced with "GOP" and "Missouri " will be replaced with "MO ".

Finally, you'll find some names are in all caps while others are in upper and lower case. We do not attempt change the capitalization. However, the category list will be in alphabetical order, regardless of case.

We have not included Candidate committees because of the huge number of these committee that reported financial transactions -- particularly in even-numbered years. In 2016, more than 1,000 Candidate committees filed financial reports.You always can use the full-search Seek category option to pull financial activites for a specific committee.

For the Contributions Received selection option, a consistent identification of political committee doors repesents a degree of complexity.

MEC's campaign finance reports include the unique MEC ID for the committee filing the report, but not the ID for a committe making the contribution, even if it is a registered committee.

In reviewing these reports, MDN has found a significant degree of inconsistency as to how committee donors are identified.

For example, the name "MO Bev PAC" that shows up as a campaign contributor, appears to be the same as the registered PAC "MISSOURI BEVERAGE PAC."

Contributing to the problem the number of separate PACS that appear to have been created by the same individual.

A futher complication to financial transparency is that not all PACs are required to disclose their donors. For example, in 2016 Seals for Truth was one of the major contributors to the gubernatorial campaign of Eric Greitens.

However, the group was created under a federal law that allowed the names of donors to be kept secret.

Finally, the names of some PACs would consume a full sentence. In order simplify our dropdown list of PACs, we've shortened those names. However, the display name for the search results will be the full registered name.

And, if you hover your cursor over the name in the dropdown list, there'll be a popup showing the full name registered with the MEC.

Thanks to the Missouri Ethics Commission

Finally, Missouri Digital News owes a great thanks to the Missouri Ethics Commission for their aggrigation of data that makes this application possible.

 

To display a list of contributions

• Category: Select the category you wish to explore -- official, PAC or your own search
• Office Year: Select the year in office if you selected an elected-official category.
• In: Select the year for which you wish to see campaign contributions.
• To: Select the specific official or PAC.
• Search: Select whether to search for contributions recieved by or made by the official/PAC.

  Office Year:   Category:    To:    In:      Recipient: Spender:   Contributor: To:      
Search in:  Contributions Received Contributions Given Expenditures