Extra! Extra!! Get your real time campaign finance data here!!!

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As fundraising for the 2014 congressional contests heats up and filing deadlines loom this week, the Sunlight Foundation is unveiling a new tool that will allow users to search, sort, filter and get alerts for campaign finance reports as they land at the Federal Election Commission.

Our Real-Time FEC tracker is the latest addition to Influence Explorer, Sunlight’s database of databases for tracking what political donors give — and what they get in return. For three years, this site has provided a comprehensive picture of political influence by combining the scrubbed and categorized-by-industry federal data provided by the Center for Responsive Politics with data on giving at the state level from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Today’s release completes the influence picture by adding up-to-the-minute real time data ingested as it’s delivered to the FEC. We have built in powerful tools to filter and sort the tens of thousands of records in the system so far for the 2014 cycle.

You can sign up to get notified when a particular committee files–or whenever something new is reported in a particular race. You can see itemized contributions and spending ; filter independent expenditures or download files showing all the contributions, spending or independent expenditures made to or by a candidate or committee since Jan. 1.

You can also quickly filter how House and Senate candidates stack up; which super PACs or party committees have the most cash on hand, or where fundraising compares across races enabling users to quickly determine which committees have the most cash on hand, which challengers have raised the most, and more.

We’re releasing this tool just in time for the disclosures of the willing: As we’ve previously noted in this space, the FEC has given politicians a pass on making campaign finance filing deadlines until the federal government shutdown is over. Nonetheless, the FEC backend that accepts electronic filings continues to function (so far) and our new tracker shows us that many candidates are handing in their paperwork despite the extension.

Under normal circumstances, this would be a big week for political junkies: Committees that report to the FEC on a quarterly basis are due to have their third quarter reports in Tuesday and reports from monthly filers are due on Sunday. So by early next week, we’ll have a comprehensive view of the political landscape going into the last quarter before the campaign year. And our Real-Time FEC tracker gives you the tools to start ranking and analyzing candidates and committees with a few keystrokes.

There are also some larger files if you want to see, for instance, every itemized contribution reported this cycle on an electronic form.

We track Senate filings by summary–including the National Republican Senatorial Campaign and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee–but those dribble in pretty late, because, as readers of this blog know, senators and Senate candidates have thus far exempted themselves from the 21st century when it filing campaign finance reports.

We’re rushing this out in time for Tuesday’s third quarter deadline in light of the FEC’s site being half broken because of lack of maintenance during the shutdown. The FEC’s backend — the part that receives and posts raw filings — hasn’t stopped working; that’s where we’re pulling these filings from. Of course, it could stop working at any minute, but so far so good. If it does break, the files we’ve gotten so far still will be available at our Real-Time FEC site.

So please pardon any dust and loose nails you see. If you see something that looks off, or can’t find what you’re looking, please email us. We’re excited about this release and hope you find it useful.

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