Campaign contributions: know your neighbors

Campaign contributions: know your neighbors.
A friend sent me a fascinating link this morning that I want to pass along to everybody. The Website, fundrace.org, allows anybody to search their neighborhood or zipcode to discover who’s donating what to which Democratic or Republican candidate in the Presidential election. Using Federal Election Commission public records, the database quickly returns the name and address of campaign contributors. The site is a goldmine for local news entities wishing to ferret out campaign stories in their communities.

I remember many a visit to the election commission with my investigative reporter teams, where we spent days doing what it takes seconds to do via the Internet. This is one of the most amazing newsgathering tools I’ve seen come down the pike in my years studying New Media. As of now, the site provides Republican and Democratic “hard money” contributions for the Presidential election.

Mike Frumin of New York is the creator of the site, which has been up for about a week. He told me over the phone that it was birthed as part of an Eyebeam Research and Development project commissioned by Atlantic Monthly to produce a map of campaign contributors in New York. He simply expanded the service to include neighborhoods and zipcodes, making the data available from the FEC much more user friendly.

“Would you have made this contribution,” he asks, “if everybody around you knew you had made it?” Interesting question. The data provided includes home address, which has brought more than one complaint. “I’ve heard from people demanding that I remove their information. I don’t, of course, because it’s all public record.” He’s yet to hear from any celebrity whose home address is revealed, but he expects that to come.

Frumin offers one caveat. Any station using the site to create stories of an accusatory nature (e.g. violations of campaign contribution laws) should double check with the FEC first before broadcasting them or writing about them. That’s wise.

Comments

  1. That’s nothing, check out
    http://msweb03.co.wake.nc.us/bordelec/Waves/WavesSearch.asp

    In Wake County, NC, at least, you can search on address and find your neighbor’s address, birthdate, RACE and political party. Also your voting history (every election you voted in.)

    From my blog from the day I found this:
    For fun, I found out that John H. Gilbert (the chairman of the board of the Wake County board of elections) is a 70-year-old white democrat and lives at 311 FOREST RD RALEIGH, NC 27605 with his 65-year-old wife and son. His wife is also white and she voted in all of the recent elections like her husband. Their son Peter was born April 3rd, 1978 and must be a bit of a rebel as he is registered as Unaffiliated. He has only voted in the last 3 elections…shame on you Peter!

    Also found that John Edward’s daughter is 22 and born on 3/4/1982. She’s voted in the past 2 elections and lives at 3323 ALLEGHANY DR, but uses a post office box as well. She’s white too!

    Believe it or not they offer the entire database in a single excel file, so anyone can know the Address, Birthdates and race of everyone in Wake County, NC.
    http://msweb03.co.wake.nc.us/bordelec/Waves/WavesDownload.asp

    Rename the file .csv and open it in excel, then find all the 20-year old Asians in your neighborhood, or all the 50 year old Indians! Very scary…

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