How to research public records
The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in its mission to provide transparency, makes a wide range of federal campaign finance reports and other documents available for public review and inspection. This page explains what records are available and how to access them. It provides resources and guides to help the public find and explore the campaign finance filings and other documents that are on the public record.
The FEC has a wide array of information available on the public record, such as information filed by candidates and committees, as well as information about Commission activity. Please refer to the following research guides for further assistance:
Accessing campaign finance information
By law, the FEC must make designations, statements, reports and notifications required to be filed with the agency available for public inspection at the Commission and on the internet within 48 hours of receipt (or 24 hours in the case of a designation, statement, report or notification filed electronically).
While most reports and statements are filed electronically, those filed on paper are scanned and posted on the FEC website.
The Campaign Finance Data section of the FEC website includes:
- PAC, party and presidential filings: 1993 to present
- House filings: May 1996 to present
- Senate filings: May 2000 to present
Financial summary data and downloadable databases are updated periodically and can be downloaded for use with spreadsheets and other software programs. For access to older campaign finance reports, please contact the Public Records Office.
Documents in the Public Records Office are open for public inspection, and may be viewed and copied from computers or microfilm. Computer indexes are used to locate the reports and cross-reference information. Aside from security screening, visitors to the office are not asked to sign in or otherwise identify themselves. The office is a fully accessible facility.
Public Records Office
Federal Election Commission
1050 First Street, NE Washington, DC
1-800-424-9530 (menu option 2)
There is a $.05 fee per page for paper and microfilm copies of reports. Many computer printouts and publications are free-of-charge. A listing of all fees is available in the Public Records Office. Payment may be made by cash, check, American Express, Mastercard or Visa. In the office, payment is made after all copies are made. Prepayment is required when ordering documents by mail. Mail requests are sent by first class U.S. mail. Requestors may arrange for shipment by a private delivery service.
Restrictions on the use of FEC disclosure documents
Any information copied from such reports or statements may not be sold or used by any person for the purpose of soliciting contributions or for commercial purposes, other than using the name and address of any political committee to solicit contributions from such committee. 52 U.S.C. §30111(a)(4). Review Sale or use of contributor information for more information.
Researchers may also obtain campaign finance reports from state records offices. (These may also include nonfederal campaign finance reports or disclosures that may be required under state or local law and not filed with the FEC.) Nearly all of these offices participate in the Commission's State Filing Waiver Program and provide electronic access to the Commission's website in order to view federal campaign finance reports. The Public Records Office publishes the Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory, a compilation of state addresses, phone numbers, web addresses and other contact information for both federal and state disclosure offices.
Refer to this list of state election offices to access information about candidates on state ballots and election results.
Access written instructions on how to download and use .FEC files, the agency's raw data files containing campaign finance data.