For Immediate Release Contact: Sharon Snyder January 2, 1998 Ron Harris Ian Stirton Kelly Huff
WASHINGTON-With the advent of the New Year, the Federal Election Commission announces a new addition to its Website: Digital images of actual campaign finance reports. Through this program the FEC hopes to dramatically broaden public access to campaign finance information.
As of today, this new system will allow those with access to the Internet to view all reports filed directly with the Commission. With the exception of Senate filings,* all 1997-98 cycle reports filed by PACs, political parties, Presidential and House campaigns will be available for viewing at the click of a button. The Website will be updated within 48 hours of the paper reports being received by the FEC. No longer will members of the press and public have to journey to Washington, D.C., or to the appropriate state offices to view reports or to order them by phone. Now they will be able to view the reports in their entirety on the Web.
Reports filed by PACs, political party committees and Presidential campaigns have been scanned (an enhancement over microfilm and microfiche) into the computer system since 1993. Scanned images of reports by House campaigns were added in early 1996. All of these scanned reports from prior years will be added to the FEC Website in the near future.
Reports of federal campaigns and committees will continue to be available for review at the FEC's Public Records Office in Washington, D.C., (and in individual state offices), and the agency will continue to maintain its traditional database, which also can be downloaded from the FEC Website. This database includes overall financial activity of committees, along with details of specific contributions. Statistical compilations of all campaign finance information will also continue.
The House Committee on Appropriations' Report accompanying the Commission's FY '98 appropriation contained language directing the
FEC to initiate this Internet disclosure process, placing the Commission's digital images of campaign finance reports on the Internet for free public access and provided the funds necessary to accomplish the task.
To view the reports, go to the FEC Website at http://www.fec.gov and click on "View Financial Reports Filed by Presidential Campaigns, House Campaigns, Parties, and PACs". Then select the committee(s) of your choice by choosing a key word in the name(s). Committees can also be selected by state, party, or FEC identification number. Once a committee is selected, a particular report can be chosen and the first page of the report will appear on the screen. Beginning with the first page, a viewer will be able to peruse a full report by merely clicking on the next page option, or by selecting any other page in the report. Images may be viewed or printed with the same clarity as the images seen at the FEC facility. Speed of delivery will be largely dependent upon an individual user's modem. Two Internet servers in different parts of the U.S. will permit faster retrieval of reports. In addition, a back-up system is in place in the event the system is interrupted or slowed for any reason.
As mentioned above, only reports covering 1997 are currently available. Updates of new reports filed in connection with the upcoming Congressional elections will be added to this file on a daily basis. In addition, in the coming weeks, the following historical reports will also become available:
Political party committees 1993-present
House candidates, their committees Early 1996-present
& committees supporting/opposing them
Presidential candidates 1993-present
& their committees
Campaign finance reports for federal campaigns may also be viewed at the following locations:
This program is part of the FEC's ongoing commitment to rapid development of new technology to enhance public awareness in the field of campaign finance.
*Currently, Senate candidates and their campaign committees, as well as committees supporting/opposing only Senate candidates, file their reports directly with the Secretary of the Senate. The FEC receives these reports on microfilm. Because the Commission does not receive the original copy of these reports, it is impossible to achieve the quality necessary for imaging purposes. Therefore, they are not included in this Website program.