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New Campaign Finance Tools from FEC

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) “now has an online map that graphically displays individual contributions to 2008 Presidential candidates, organized by zip code. Users may also look at and compare contributions to specific candidates, all candidates, or all candidates from a political party. Republican presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a town hall meeting, Friday, June 8, 2007, in Pella, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) The new system also allows users to export campaign finance data to an Excel spreadsheet.”

The online map was modeled after graphics the New York Times’ website used to present contribution data after the first round of 2008 presidential finance reports were filed in April. The New York Times version allowed users to expand and contract bubbles, according to the size of campaign donations, over geographic areas. To build a similar map, Palmer said it would have cost the FEC $800,000. Instead, Palmer said “We’d thought we’d save the taxpayers some money” and went without the expandable bubbles. He said their map costs around $12,000 to build.

Palmer also told reporters that the FEC hopes to have a similar mapping system for House and Senate candidates this fall. If all goes well, they’ll launch “seventeen categories you can drill down to a very detailed level” to see who is funding all federal candidates, Palmer said.

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