Methodology

A look into how the Center reported "Party Lines"

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Party Lines is the product of on-going work obtaining and analyzing the money raised and spent by state Democratic and Republican political party and caucus committees. The Center for Public Integrity maintains a database of party and caucus contributions and expenditures from all 50 states.

The database includes contribution and expenditure data reported to state and federal agencies by political party and caucus committees in all 50 states. During the 2004 election cycle the Center tracked 232 committees, compiling more than 400,000 contribution records totaling more than $735 million and nearly 420,000 expenditure records covering $755 million. For the 2001-2002 election cycle, the Center kept tabs on 229 state party and caucus committees; a data set housing more than 356,000 contribution records totaling nearly $823 million and nearly 422,000 expenditure records covering $790 million.

State and federal accounts

The data for this report comes from state and federal sources: State party and caucus committees file periodic reports with state regulators, and all 100 major party committees also maintain federal accounts that are reported to the Federal Election Commission. Federal accounts are used to pay for expenses that benefit at least one federal candidate. Contributions to federal accounts are subject to federal election limits.

The Center's database includes both types of filings and researchers ensured that the two sets of data did not repeat each other. In several states, state party filings included some or all of the information contained in a party committee's federal account as well. In those cases, the Center dealt with duplicative entries by removing identical records from the state filings. In this manner, the database reflects the contents of state and federal accounts.

The actual records came in a variety of formats: some states provided campaign finance data in electronic format or display the records on a Web site in a manner that it could be imported into the database, while other states provided filings in Adobe Acrobat format or on paper. In the latter two instances, the Center contracted with an outside data-entry firm, ILM Corporation of Fredericksburg, Va., to keypunch the data. The FEC maintains electronic records for state party federal accounts.

The data is limited by what the parties reported to their respective state agencies. There are cases where some information is not reported in certain states. All 50 states require some data on contributions and expenditures be reported to state election authorities, but not all require the same information—for example, some states do not require the full address of a donor.

In some states, including Florida, Indiana and Montana, the two sets of records overlap, with state forms including some transactions reported to the FEC. Center researchers have attempted to resolve these duplicate entries, but variations in reporting made this task difficult (for example, otherwise identical contributions to a party's state and federal account often were given different dates). In instances of overlapping records, the Center included the federal transaction to establish how much money went to federal accounts and excluded the duplicate state record.

Contributions

The database of contributions includes itemized donations to state party and caucus committees' state and federal accounts between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2004. Please note: Web pages displaying data default to the most recent election cycle, but you can select the cycle you want to view. In some instances, committees reported totals of unitemized donations (typically less than $100) along with itemized contributions, and those were included in the Center's analysis. The Center did not include transfers between accounts of the same committee. For example, if a state party's federal account reported a transfer from its state account, that transaction is not included as a "contribution." Bank interest, bank loans and other non-contributions were also excluded from the study.

Contributions were coded by Center researchers to identify leading donors. Researchers also assigned contributions an industry code based on a system developed by the Center for Responsive Politics. The industry code allows us to determine how much particular industries have given to state party and caucus committees.

The coding process was complicated by differences in the ways states maintain records and information required on disclosure forms. Some states do not require donors to list their employer or occupation, both of which are required by the Federal Election Commission. Still, more than 80 percent of the total amount donated to state party and caucus committees was industry-coded by the Center.

Expenditures

Similarly, the expenditures database consists of payments by state party and caucus committees between Jan. 1, 2001 and Dec. 31, 2004 from their state and federal accounts. Please note: Web pages displaying data default to the most recent election cycle, but you can select the cycle you want to view. Beginning in 2001, state party committees with federal accounts were required to file their federal reports electronically. The Center downloaded those files from the FEC, and obtained state account records from state election authorities.

Internal transfers and bank loan or mortgage payments were excluded from the expenditures database. Center researchers assigned a code to each payment to determine its purpose. The study employed a system the Center has developed for its reporting on state party spending. The expenditure coding system enables the Center to determine how much money was spent on salaries, fundraising or advertising, among other things. For 2004, just 13 percent of the $755 million spent could not be coded due to insufficient information. For 2001-2002, less than one-half of one percent of the money spent by state parties—nearly $3.5 million of the $790 million total could not be coded. A copy of the Center's coding scheme is available for download.

Selected committees in California, New Mexico and Texas reported identical expense information in their state and federal filings for payments made with a combination of hard and soft money. In those instances, the Center chose to use the state record and only the hard money portion of the federal transaction, which was not accounted for in the state filing.

Transfers

For the 2004 dataset, because national party "soft money" transfers were banned by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the Center only compared hard money transfers from the national parties to state party and caucus committees.

For the purposes of this study, the national party committees are the three Republican and three Democratic committees that raise money for the national parties and their respective arms in the House and Senate.

For previous election cycles, the Center's state party data was supplemented with expenditures by the six national party committees, which were a major source of financial support for state parties. A key reason for gathering the national party expenditures was to compare transfers they made to state party and caucus committees. In the 1999-2000 election cycle, the Center found discrepancies between what state parties reported receiving from national parties and what the national parties reported sending the states. In the 2001-2002 study, the nationwide total–$300 million–reflected the transfers reported by the national parties to the FEC rather than the state totals.

All statewide totals (e.g. the total raised by Minnesota parties combined) don't include money transferred between any of the committees included in the analysis. To illustrate: the contribution database might have one record indicating an individual donor gave $10,000 to party X. Then there might be another record indicating party X gave $10,000 to party Y. If both amounts were included, the total would inflate the amount of money that truly came into the political party system.

Committees

In attempting to mirror the national structure (two major political parties, plus the main legislative caucus committees), the Center collected reports filed by each state's Democratic and Republican central committees, as well as any committees in the state that operated as a caucus, such as the House Republican Committee or Senate Democrat Committee.

The 2004 data includes contributions and expenditures reported by 232 state party and caucus committees. A handful of committees filed reports with missing pages. The Center made a good-faith effort to obtain the missing records by contacting oversight agencies and the committees themselves. Please contact us with any further questions.

The Team

 

 

 

Project Manager: Leah Rush, Director of State Projects 
Editor: Teo Furtado 
Database Developers: Agustín Armendariz and Derek Willis 
Database Editors: Aron Pilhofer and Daniel Lathrop 
Computer Assisted Reporting Fellow: Helena Bengtsson

Writers and Researchers: Agustín Armendariz, Aron Pilhofer, Kevin Bogardus and Neil Gordon 
Research Editor: Peter Newbatt Smith 
Researchers: Maggie Clark, David Dagan, Joseph Dietrich, Natasha Grant, Arya Hariharan, Lindsey Holden, David Jimenez, Morgan Jindrich, Julia Miller-Lemon, Jennifer Puckett, Susan Schaab, Davinia Seay, Joshua Starr and Brooke Williams

Webmaster: Han Nguyen 
Graphic Designer: Jyoti Sauna 
Information Technology Manager: Javed Khan

The Center for Public Integrity 
Executive Director: Roberta Baskin 
Managing Editor: Bill Allison 
Director of Communications and Outreach: Ann Pincus 
Director of Development: Barbara Schecter 
Director of Finance and Administration: Cathy Sweeney

2001-2002 Report Team

Database Developer and Senior Writer: Derek Willis 
Database Editors: Aron Pilhofer and Daniel Lathrop 
Writers and Researchers: Robert Morlino and Alexander Cohen 
Researchers: Agustín Armendariz, Kevin Bogardus, Maggie Clark, David Dagan, Joseph Dietrich, Neil Gordon, Natasha Grant, Lindsey Holden, Morgan Jindrich, Julia Miller-Lemon, Jennifer Puckett, Susan Schaab, Joshua Starr and Brooke Williams

The Center for Public Integrity 
Executive Director: Charles Lewis 
Managing Editor: Bill Allison 
Deputy Managing Editor: Teo Furtado 
Director of State Projects: Leah Rush 
Research Editor: Peter Newbatt Smith 
Information Technology Manager: Javed Khan 
Graphic Designer: Jonathan Werve

Web Developers: Han Nguyen and Johnson Philip

1999-2000 Report Team

Executive Director: Charles Lewis 
Managing Editor: Bill Allison 
Project Manager: MaryJo Sylwester 
Director of State Projects: Meleah Rush 
Lead Writer: John Dunbar 
Writers: Katy Lewis, Eric Marx, Robert Moore, MaryJo Sylwester 
Research Editor: Peter Newbatt Smith

Production Editor: M. Asif Ismail

Researchers: Kate Alexander, Phillip Caston, Jennifer Gross, Rachel Harris, Stephanie Miller, Daniela SantaMaria, Christopher Tritto, Derrick Wetherell 
Assistant Database Editor: Joseph Williams

Web Developers: Hima Jain, Donna Rifai, Scott Singleton

IT Manager: Javed Khan

The Center for Responsive Politics: Larry Noble, Executive Director 
Larry Makinson, Senior Fellow 
Shiela Krumholz, Research Director 
Steve Weiss, Communications Director 
Susan Alger, IT Director

National Institute on Money in State Politics: Samantha Sanchez, Co-Director 
Edwin Bender, Research Director 
Denise Roth Barber, Researcher 
John Allen, Researcher 
Michelle Hoffert, Data Manager 
Sue O'Connell, Communications Director

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