Live from Chicago! Campaign finance data in real time


With election season heating up (statewide on November 4, 2014, and in Chicago on February 24, 2015), knowing who’s spending money on political campaigns has never been more critical. In Illinois, this kind of data is challenging to get, especially in bulk. Until now.

DataMade and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) are launching a new app today: Election Money — bulk downloads of campaign finance data from the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Graphic of page linking to Election Money site, providing campaign finance downloads from the Illinois State Board of Elections
It’s easy to download Illinois campaign finance data on DataMade’s new site. Click to go to the page. (Credit: DataMade)

Election Money makes available Illinois campaign contribution and expenditure data from the Illinois State Board of Elections going back to 1994, to give journalists, activists and citizens access to documentation of records, including:

In addition to providing the data, which is updated daily, ICPR shares its expertise and insight into the context, origins, quality and meaning of this data.

Table showing details of data reported on DataMade's Election Money site
What’s available on the ElectionMoney site. Click graphic to go to page. (Credit: DataMade)

What can you do with this data?

We’re committed to keeping this data available and up to date. Now we need your help. Contained within this data is a treasure trove of information on candidates, political committees and donors that begs to be explored.

Here’s just a few ideas for ways you can examine this data:

  • Identify which donors are giving the most money to which candidates.
  • Find out which candidates have the most money on hand or have spent the most.
  • See which candidates — or elected officials — are in debt and to whom.
  • Find relationships among candidates, committees and donors.
  • Spot “money bombs” or late infusions of cash that may tip the balance in close races. Remember, our contributions files are updated daily.
  • Identify quid pro quos by linking campaign donors to beneficiaries of government benefits.
  • Identify where representatives are getting their funds: In state? Out of state? In district? Out of district? Our bulk data is sortable by address, down to the zip code.
  • See when political investors decide to double down on — or drop — a candidate. Our bulk data allows you to sort campaign contributions by date.

With this new access to our bulk data, we invite you to dive in!

Derek Eder is a co-founder of Open City, a group of volunteers in Chicago that create apps with open data to improve citizen understanding of our government through transparency, and owner of DataMade, a civic technology and open data consultancy.