New web portal launched for tracking money in politics

More

There’s a new web portal for tracking who’s behind the money in elections, a task that can be arduous. 

For New Mexico voters, the primary sources of campaign finance data are the websites of the New Mexico Secretary of State and the Federal Election Commission.

And at the federal level there are also reports filed by broadcasters with the Federal Communications Commission that show who is buying airtime for television ads. Called “NAB” reports, which stands for National Association of Broadcasters, these are often the first sign one has of a group planning to spend money in an election.

But searching those filings on the FCC site is onerous. The Center for Responsive Politics, or opensecrets.org, has pulled all of the reports filed by New Mexico broadcasters into a user-friendly portal. They’ve also included a list of the most recent organizations that have gained nonprofit status with the IRS.

It’s a little arcane. But if you ever wanted to, along with reporters, research who is spending how much on television ad buys, this portal makes it a lot easier.

The center is known for its Open Secrets website, which is similar in spirit to our own Openness Project.  The Open Secrets site makes federal campaign data easily searched, and also organizes the data by industry and employer. NMID’s Openness Project provides a similar service for state-level campaign finance and lobbyist data, pulled from the Secretary of State’s website. Another website doing similar state-level work is a project of the National Institute on Money in Politics, followthemoney.org.

All of the sources and types of data that make ferreting out who’s spending money in elections can be confusing. Another service Open Secrets provides in their web portal is this handy chart, with explanatory language here.

Center for Responsive Politics

Chart showing various sources of information for tracking money in elections.