Earlier this week, Bob Biersack with the Federal Elections Commission detailed the upcoming release of new campaign finance data by the Federal Election Commission. The anticipated release that is scheduled for next week will contain near-real time independent expenditure data and electioneering communication data.
Biersack was careful to identify that the type of data being released is not necessarily new, but the format of the data and who the information is supplied by are the important factors.
The FEC official writes:
“It's important to remember that not all of the activity we see in 2010 in these categories will really be new. People and groups have been making independent expenditures throughout the life of the Federal Election Campaign Act and some of this will simply represent a continuation of that activity, but some of these filings will come from organizations (e.g. corporations and unions using their general treasury funds) that were prohibited from making these expenditures in the past. The same goes for electioneering communications: Groups have been reporting this activity since the enactment of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, but the range of organizations that may make these disbursements is now wider.”
Groups spending more than $10,000 20 days or more before an election and $1,000 within 19 days of the election on independent expenditures must disclose financial details to the FEC the same day the information is released. Groups spending at least $10,000 on electioneering communications are also required by the FEC to disclose those actions the same day the information is distributed no matter when the spending occurs. The FEC is working to turn the information around as soon as possible by providing automated entry forms for political groups or digitizing information quickly if submitted in hand written form. The longest it could be before any information is available online is two days, and that is if data is received on a weekend.
This is promising news for people interested in following the money behind campaign ads. With all the rule changes and new players able to advance their political agendas in ways never allowed before, it is important that public have access to this information. For information on how states are requiring disclosure to take place read here. And to read about how IE-only committees are taking form, read here.