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Independent expenditures file description

The independent expenditures file contains detailed information about independent expenditures. These are spending by individual people, groups, political committees, corporations or unions expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate. These expenditures may not be made in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, the candidate’s campaign or a political party.

This file contains 24-hour and 48-hour reports of independent expenditures filed during the current election cycle.

  • 48-hour reports: Any time up to 20 days before an election, if independent expenditures by a person or organization aggregate more than $10,000 in a race they must be reported to the Commission before the end of the second day after the communication is publicly distributed.
  • 24-hour reports: If the communications are distributed within the last 19 days before the election, the expenditure must be reported within one day if they aggregate more than $1,000 in a race.

The file shows detailed information about independent expenditures including who was paid, the purpose of the disbursement, date and amount of the expenditure, and the candidate supported or opposed by the expenditure. Historical data is available beginning with the 2010 election cycle.

Duplicated data

This file contains transactions from both original reports and amended reports. Transactions from an original report are not removed when that report is later amended. This means that transactions will be duplicated in this dataset. 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.

Independent expenditure file format

Column name Field name Data type Description Range Explanation Example data
CAN_ID Candidate ID Character Unique ID of candidate for or against whom the expenditure was made 9 characters First character indicates office sought: H=House, S=Senate, P=Presidential. Characters 3 & 4 are the state abbreviation for Congressional candidates. NOTE - this information is provided by filers and may be missing - in these cases office, state, district and candidate name should appear. H8VA01233
CAN_NAM Candidate name Character Name of candidate Max 90 characters Martha Washington
SPE_ID Spender ID Character Unique ID of committee, individual or group making expenditure 9 characters Unique FEC ID assigned to the entity submitting reports of independent expenditures C90012121
SPE_NAM Spender name Character Name of committee, individual or group making expenditure max 90 characters American National Alliance
ELE_TYP Election type Character Code for specific election for which expenditure was made 5 characters First character indicates election - P=Primary, G=General, S=Special. Next four characters indicate election year. P2018
CAN_OFF_STA Candidate state Character Postal state abbreviation for the candidate 2 characters VA
CAN_OFF_DIS Candidate district Number District number for the candidate 2 characters District location if spending for/against House candidate. 01
CAN_OFF Office Character Office sought by candidate 1 character H=House, S=Senate, P=President G
CAN_PAR_AFF Party Character Party abbreviation for candidate 3 characters Dem=Democrat
The full list of party abbreviations
EXP_AMO Expenditure amount Currency Dollar amount of specific expenditure 10,000.00
EXP_DAT Expenditure date Date Date of specific expenditure MM/DD/YYYY 05/10/2018
AGG_AMO Aggregate amount Currency Total amount expended during the calendar year, per election, per office sought 10,000.00
SUP_OPP Support/Oppose Character S=Support, O=Oppose 1 character S
PUR Purpose of expenditure Character max 100 characters description of the expenditure, e.g. television or radio ad TV advertisement
PAY Name of payee Character max 90 characters Name of the person or vendor or other entity receiving this payment ADE Production Company
FILE_NUM Filing number Number Unique identifier for a submission (which may report several disbursements) 7 characters 1121112
AMN_IND Amendment Indicator Character New report or amendment to a report 2 characters A
TRA_ID Transaction ID Character Unique identifier for the transaction (unique within the specific filing Max 32 characters 123
IMA_NUM Image number VARCHAR2 (11) or VARCHAR2(18) Image location for page on which transaction appears VARCHAR2 (11) or VARCHAR2(18) 11-digit Image Number Format
YY - scanning year
OO - office (01 - House, 02 - Senate, 03 - FEC Paper, 90-99 - FEC Electronic)
RRR - reel number
FFFF- frame number
18-digit Image Number Format (June 29, 2015)
YYYY - scanning year
MM - scanning month
DD - scanning day
SS - source (02 - Senate, 03 - FEC Paper, 9x - FEC Electronic)
PPPPPPPP - page (reset to zero every year on January 1)
REC_DT Filing receipt date Date Date on which transaction was submitted to FEC MM/DD/YYYY 10/17/2018
FEC_ELECTION_YR Two-year period Date Two-year period YYYY 1984
PREV_FILE_NUM Previous filing number Number Reference to a filing being amended 6 characters For electronic filings the previous filing number references the filing being amended. For new filings and paper filings this field will be null 1101110
DISSEM_DT Dissemination date Date Date of public dissemination MM/DD/YYYY 05/10/2018