Online maps track candidates' money

The Federal Election Commission launched a new online map tool today that lets the public better track how congressional candidates are getting and spending their money for the 2008 House and Senate elections.

The new application complements an interactive online map that FEC launched earlier this year. That map tracks contributions for the 2008 presidential election.

By clicking on geographic representations of states and congressional districts on the interactive map, users can look up the latest fund-raising and spending data for candidates running for House and Senate seats. From the map, it is then possible to access a database on individual contributors, including their names, addresses, employers and donation amounts. The data on the Senate and House races is broken up geographically by constituencies, and the presidential election contribution data is shown on the map by location of the donor.

The House and Senate application is unique because it lets people see how the campaigns spend their money and not just who is donating, FEC officials said.

Several nonprofit and media organizations already publish similar information using mapping applications, but FEC officials say their maps are different because the data is original-source material.
The congressional data tracker uses the same basic software that the presidential campaign software uses, the majority of which was designed in-house. FEC created the Web application in about six weeks at a cost of $12,000. Officials estimate that buying the entire application could have cost as much as $900,000 and taken significantly longer to create.

About the Author

Ben Bain is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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