About MapLight’s Federal Contribution Data

Where does the data come from?

MapLight gathers data directly from the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the regulatory agency that administers and enforces campaign finance laws. MapLight utilizes the FEC’s bulk data downloads that are updated every Sunday. Updates are processed throughout the week, beginning with the most recent cycles. All cycles are typically finished by Thursday.

MapLight’s research team studies the largest organizations and corrects spelling variations and other discrepancies in their names to provide results that are more accurate than the raw FEC data.

What other data may be available from the FEC?

The FEC typically releases bulk data every week, typically after the campaign filings have been processed by FEC analysts. In addition to this information, raw (unreviewed) filing data is made available on FEC.gov. The raw data on the FEC website provides the most up-to-date information, but may suffer from inaccuracies that will later be corrected when the FEC finishes processing the filings.

After reviewing the processed data from the FEC, MapLight performs additional processing to match each contribution to a list of thousands of known synonyms so that “Apple,” “Apple Computer,” “Apple, Inc.” and dozens of other variations are all attributed to the same organization.

Why are some contributions marked as unitemized?

The FEC does not require contributors who donate less than $200 to a campaign to disclose their identity. Those contributions are called “unitemized.”

Can I republish this information or use it in my reporting?

Yes, please! But first, please review our Terms of Use and applicable federal law. When citing our data, please cite as “MapLight analysis of campaign finance data.”

Why are there spelling errors in information shown in result tables?

We use the spelling provided by filers in the FEC data. Spelling errors are a common mistake in the process of filing disclosure paperwork.