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Metadata Description

Metadata description of Electioneering Communications Transactions

General Description

This file contains specific disbursement transactions disclosed to the Commission as electioneering communications. Electioneering communications are broadcast ads (radio, tv, cable or satellite) sponsored by individuals or groups that are not political committees (i.e. not campaigns, PACs or parties) within 30 days of a primary election or 60 days of the general election that make reference to a federal candidate and are targeted to that candidate's electorate. (Unlike independent expenditures, electioneering communications don't advocate a candidate's election or defeat.) The payments for ads will be disclosed within one day of their public distribution. Any donations made specifically to pay for these communications will also be disclosed if they meet certain thresholds.

Once spending on one of these exceeds $10,000 in the aggregate it must be reported by the end of the day after the day the ad has been publicly distributed. Additional reports are required each time additional spending for electioneering communications exceeds $10,000.

Each of these filings will include detailed information about the electioneering communication spending, including who was paid, the date, amount and purpose of the disbursement and the office, state, district and name(s) of candidates referred to in the ad. 

The file includes all transactions with disbursement dates beginning January 1, 2009.

Reports filed electronically will be posted to the files as soon as we have received and processed them (an automated process that usually takes only a few minutes).  Transactions from reports submitted on paper will be entered into our database as soon as we can.  This will hopefully mean the day we receive them for most filings.  Those coming to us after normal business hours may be entered the following day, and those received on a weekend may be entered the following Monday.  As soon as the entry is complete and the system has processed the data it too will be included in the files.

A note on possible duplication

The need for speed in delivering these data will mean that some of the usual review and modification that we routinely do won’t be happening for these files.  For example, if filers submit the same material more than once (e.g. by amending a previous filing) we won’t be adjusting the files to include only one version of the entries.  This means that analysis of these data will require some work so that totals are not inflated.  Generally this can be done by sorting the records by filer and date and targeted candidate with an examination of amendment indicator columns or report type codes when the same dates and amounts appear.

More information about Electioneering Communications .


The FEC has also created a blog to discuss features of these files and respond to your questions or comments.

Information contained in the file

The Electioneering Communications Transactions File contains the following information:

Tag Field Name Data Type Description Range Explanation
src Source Character distinguishes between disbursement records (value will be SB or 93) and records with information about the candidate(s) referred to (value will be either CAN or 94) 3 characters

Records containing disbursement information have values of either SB or 93.

Records containing information about candidates have values of either CAN or 94.

file_num Filing number Number Unique identifier for a submission (which may report several disbursements) 6 characters  
amndt_ind Amendment Indicator Character

N=new filing

A=amended filing

1 character  
tran_id Transaction ID Character unique identifier created by the filer for each transaction    
back_ref_tran_id Back reference ID Character for a candidate record (i.e. value CAN or 94) the unique tran_id for the related disbursement record    
group_id Group ID Character identifier which is identical for a disbursement transactions and all of the candidate records associated    
cmte_id Filer ID Character FEC ID number for the group submitting the report 9 characters Typically begins C3 for electioneering communication filers
spe_nam Name of Group Character name of the group submitting the report max 90 characters  
ele_typ Election Type Character type of election referred to  

e.g. General, Primary, Special


ele_yr Election year Number year of election 4 characters e.g. 2010, 2009
exp_amo Disbursement Amount Currency dollar amount of specific disbursement    
exp_dat Disbursement date Date date of specific disbursement MM/DD/YYYY  
pur Purpose of disbursement Character   max 100 characters Description of the disbursement, e.g. television or radio ad
pay Name of payee Character   max 90 characters Name of the person or vendor or other entity receiving this payment
ima_num Image number Number image location for page on which transaction appears 11 characters  
cand_id Candidate ID Character ID number of the candidate referred to 9 characters This is provided by the filer but not required so there may be missing data
cand_nm Candidate Name Character name of candidate referred to    
cand_office Candidate office Character office of the candidate referred to 1 character




cand_office_st Candidate state Character state abbreviation for the candidate referred to 2 characters  
receipt dt Receipt date Date date the submission was received mm/dd/yyyy