Methodology, the team for Buying of the President 2004

A look inside the Center's best-selling book 'The Buying of the President 2004'

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The Center for Public Integrity publishes this Web site as a public service and it is a companion to a forthcoming book to be released before the presidential primary season. Over the course of a year, 50 researchers, writers and editors investigated the candidates and the political parties, contacting or interviewing more than 600 people and systematically gathering hundreds of thousands of federal and state records and secondary source material. As part of the Center for Public Integrity's exhaustive, "leave-no-stone-unturned" approach, we examined the biographical history of each of the candidates.

From these materials, we created and updated comprehensive one-of-a-kind databases. To discern their personal financial holdings we culled all available financial disclosure statements and created a database that detailed every cent owned by each politician, along with their incomes. Only by knowing each candidate's financial holdings could we analyze potential conflicts of interest.

The next step was to collect every available contribution record for each politician during his or her entire government career. To reach this goal, Center data analysts spent months gathering and coding donations made on the federal level going back to 1978. To truly examine the financial histories at play, researchers compiled additional documents including state campaign contribution records and the under-reported contributions of soft money going to candidate committees through the 527 system. The result was a truly unprecedented database containing 1,834,513 campaign finance records of the presidential candidates that allowed us to convert federal, state and soft money records into single lists, ranking each candidate's top career donors.

In addition to campaign contributions, researchers followed the money trail to analyze candidates' campaign expenditure records and look for the connections between politicians and interested parties. We checked documents detailing any all-expense-paid trips or use of corporate jets by the candidates, as well as any federal election law "matters under review" by the Federal Election Commission. We also systematically compared past and current Congressional staff listings with lobbying records to identify post-employment, "revolving door" practices. Center researchers studied federal and state lobbying records, legislative voting records and sometimes committee hearing records to explore what legislative favors had been granted to large campaign donors. In addition, we examined and analyzed litigation and legal records, as well as Securities and Exchange Commission 10K, annual reports and other company-related documents involving many of the candidates and political parties.

The Center filed the most Freedom of Information Act requests on a single investigative project in its nearly 14-year history, requesting all correspondence for the last six years between those seeking the White House and more than 100 federal agencies. Many of the more than 10,000 documents that the Center received have shown servicing-the-donor connections between these candidates and their largest contributors.

Executive Director: Charles Lewis 
Managing Editor: Bill Allison 
Deputy Managing Editor: Teo Furtado 
Senior Editor: Alan Green 
Project Manager: Alex Knott 

Writers: Aubrey Bruggeman, Ben Coates, Bill Allison, Katy Lewis, Adam Mayle, Alan Green, Alex Knott, Daniel Lathrop, Charles Lewis, Robert Moore, M. Asif Ismail, Laura Peterson, Brooke Williams, Alexander Cohen 

Database Editors: Aron Pilhofer, Derek Willis 

Web Developer: Han Nguyen 
IT Manager: Javed Khan 
Additional Web Development: Scott Singleton 

Research Editor: Peter Newbatt Smith 
Production Editor: M. Asif Ismail 

Senior Researchers: Aubrey Bruggeman, Ben Coates, Daniel Lathrop, Katy Lewis, Adam Mayle 

Researchers: Agustín Armendariz, Jessica Bartko, Colleen Coffey, Sarah Coffey, Maren Goldberg, Neil Gordon, Dar Haddix, Lisa Hirsch, Sara Hunt, Morgan Jindrich, Lisa Kays, Allison Kaminsky, Sholpan Kozhamkulova, Kara Kridler, Alexander Leonhardt, Katie McLeod, Jennifer Mehigan, Andrew Noyes, Meghan O'Donnell, Alicia Oman, Erin Quintana, Osita Iroegbu, Mark Reading-Smith, Reem Rifai, Susan Schaab, Brooke Sherman, Oscar Ayala Silva, Dawn Triemstra, Ed Turner, André Verlöy, Katharine Widland, Amy Wojciechowski 

The Center for Public Integrity: Cathy Sweeney, Barbara Schecter, Ann Pincus, Nathan Kommers, Regina Russell, Renée Christopher