How to research public records
Learn how candidates and committees raise and spend money in federal elections. A wide range of campaign finance documents and other resources are available for public review.
The FEC has a wide array of information on the public record:
- Individual contributions
- PACs, parties and other committees
- Commission activity
- Election dates
- FEC Reports on Financial Activity (Historical data from 1976 to 1994)
Accessing campaign finance information
The FEC website has available digital images of campaign finance reports of PACs, political parties, presidential, U.S. Senate and U.S. House campaigns:
- PAC, party and presidential filings since 1993
- House filings since May 1996
- Senate filings since May 2000
To view the reports, go to the FEC website and click on "Campaign Finance Data." Also available on the website are financial summary data and downloadable databases, which are updated periodically and can be downloaded for use with spreadsheets and other software programs.
All documents in the Public Records Office are open for public inspection and copying. Documents may be viewed and copied from public terminals 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.
1050 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20463
1-800-424-9530 (menu option 2)
The fee is $.05 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. Payment may be made by cash, check, American Express, Mastercard or Visa. In the office, payment is made after all copies are made. This eliminates the need for rolls of nickels or dimes. 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. The Public Records Office annually publishes the Combined Federal/State Disclosure and Election Directory. This compilation of state addresses, phone numbers, web addresses and other contact information for both federal and state disclosure offices is available in print from the Public Records Office or the Commission's website. Many of these offices also 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.
See also this list of state election offices for 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.