From time to time, someone will ask how do you get campaign finance information to see who contributed to a candidate or how they spent their money. Here is the step-by-step process for candidates in Alabama elections. (This is not applicable to Federal campaigns such as U.S. House or Senate.)
- Go to Secretary of State website
- Click Elections on the left menu
- Click View Campaign Finance Reports on bottom right
- Click View Elections Filings
- Click Search Database
At this point you have the options of looking for information on individual candidates or for political action committees
- Click Principal Campaign Committee Search for candidate info
- Insert last name of the candidate you are searching for.
- Click Search
You then have a box showing the dates when reports are due from the candidate to the Secretary of State. Click on one of these for that particular report. Info begins with the most recent report filed and goes back from that date. There are five reports shown per page and maybe five or more pages of similar info.
- Click View Filed Report
This should get you to your starting point. Reports may have info for contributions received, in-kind contributions and expenditures. Don’t ignore in-kind contributions as some PACs give the majority of their support by providing a campaign with polling, direct mail, printing, field staff, etc., instead of writing a check. There will also be reports for “major contributions” which are $20,000 or greater.
Time spent looking at such information can be quite insightful. And don’t ignore how candidates say they have spent their money as some of what they consider “campaign expenses” will cause you to scratch your head for certain.