The Campaign Finance API includes information about electronic filings, which are submitted to the Federal Election Commission on nearly every day of the year. The API, which originated at The New York Times in 2008, provides details about specific types of filings, filings for a specific date and a summary of financial information in each filing.
The API does not include itemized contribution records except in some specific circumstances. If you’re looking to search for contributors, the FEC and the Center for Responsive Politics make bulk data available, and the FEC’s new beta site also has an individual search.
The FEC has provided this data in bulk for decades, and has recently launched a beta API of its own that has includes candidates, committees, filings and some itemized transactions. There is some overlap between the FEC’s API and ProPublica’s: both offer users the ability to search for candidates or committees and summary financial information, while both offer information that the other does not.
One big difference is timeliness: the FEC API is updated nightly, while ours will be updated throughout each day. For many users of campaign finance data, that distinction may not be a big deal, but on filing days, when thousands of filings are submitted to the FEC, timeliness can matter a lot. Another is the source data: the FEC considers electronic filings to be “unofficial” in the sense that data from them is then brought into agency databases before being published as bulk data. The FEC API publishes data only from those official tables, while the ProPublica API has data from both the official tables and the raw electronic filings. As the FEC API develops, we may move to incorporate aspects of it into the ProPublica API, or to remove clearly duplicative offerings.
Use of this API is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States license. Additionally, the data returned by the Campaign Finance API is subject to the official sale and use restrictions set by the Federal Election Commission. Commercial uses (as permitted under SEC rules) may be subject to additional fees.