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HOME / CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS AND DATA / GUIDE TO RESEARCHING PUBLIC RECORDS

Your Guide to Researching Public Records


This document is a publication on the information available in the Public Records Office of the Federal Election Commission.


What's available? How do I find it?


Public Records Office, Federal Election Commission


999 E Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20463
202-694-1120 / 800-424-9530 / FAX 202-501-0693
FAXLINE 202-501-3413
http://www.fec.gov
pubrec@fec.gov

Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Monday - Friday
Extended hours during reporting periods

How to Obtain Information

All documents in the Public Records office are open for public inspection and copying. Documents may be viewed and copied from microfilm or optical image machines. Certain documents filed in the current election cycle are also available in paper copy. Computer indexes are used to locate the reports and cross reference information. Visitors to the office are not asked to sign in or otherwise identify themselves. The office is a fully accessible facility located at 999 E St., NW Washington, DC 20463. The office may be contacted by dialing 1-800/424-9530, option #2 (toll free) or 202/694-1120. Fax: 202/501-0693. E-mail: pubrec@fec.gov.

Information is also available 24 hours a day via the Commission's Web site, http://www.fec.gov, and through Faxline, an automated document faxing system. To access the FEC Faxline system, dial 202/501-3413 and follow the voice prompts.

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Cost

The fee is $.05 per page for paper and microfilm copies of reports. Many computer printouts and publications are free-of-charge. A listing of all fees is available. Payment may be made by cash, check, money order, American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Master Card or Visa. In the office, payment is made after all copies are made. This eliminates the need for rolls of nickels or dimes. Prepayment is required when ordering documents by mail. Mail requests are sent by first class U.S. mail. Requesters who arrange for shipment by a private delivery service will have their package placed in the office's pick-up bin.

Researchers may also deposit $25 or more into an account with the office to draw against for future copies of documents/indexes. Please contact the office for information on establishing an account.

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State Offices

Researchers may also obtain campaign finance reports from state records offices. The Disclosure Division annually publishes the Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory. This compilation of state addresses, phone numbers, web addresses, and other contact information for both federal and state disclosure offices is available in print from the Public Records Office or the Commission's Web site. Many of these offices also participate in the Commission's State Filing Waiver Program and provide electronic access to federal campaign finance reports via an Internet connection to the Commission's Web site at a public terminal.


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Personal Computer

The FEC website has available digital images of campaign finance reports of PACs, political parties, Presidential, U.S. Senate, and U.S. House campaigns. To view the reports, go to the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov and click on "Campaign Finance Reports and Data." Also available on the website are financial summary data and downloadable databases, which are updated periodically and can be downloaded for use with spreadsheets and other software programs.

Restrictions on the Use of FEC Disclosure Documents

Any information copied from such reports or statements may not be sold or used by any person for the purpose of soliciting contributions or for commercial purposes, other than using the name and address of any political committee to solicit contributions from such committee. 2 U.S.C. §438(a)(4).

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FEC Public Records Available to You on...

Candidates

The Commission compiles nationwide statistics on federal campaigns to help researchers understand how particular candidates compare with national/state trends and rankings. For further research, indexes and computerized search systems are available.

Lists Available To Research Candidates:

Checklist To Research A Specific Candidate:

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PACs, Party and Other Committees

The Commission prepares summary financial figures on PACs, party committees and others, to provide a perspective on various groupings and rankings of the committees. Staff is also available to explain and assist in further researching a specific committee.
Lists Available to Research Committees:

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Individual Contributors

The Commission maintains a database of individuals who have made contributions to political committees. For 1977 to 1988, contributions of $500 or more were entered. For 1989 to the present, contributions of $200 or more are included. Data on individual contributors includes the following:

The following are examples of the various types of contributor searches that may be conducted:

Individual contributor searches may be performed one at a time or in multiple Combinations to narrow the actual search. Example: All contributions to a particular committee on a specific date or all contributions to a candidate from contributors who list the same principal place of business.

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Public Records on Commission Activity

A wide range of Commission documents can be readily reviewed or copied. Checklist To Research Commission Actions:

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