Campaign Finance I: Mining FEC data

  • Event: 2014 CAR Conference
  • Speakers: Aaron Bycoffe of FiveThirtyEight; Jack Gillum of ProPublica; Christopher Schnaars of USA TODAY Network
  • Date/Time: Friday, Feb. 28 at 11:00am
  • Location: Salon DEF
  • Audio file: Only members can listen to conference audio

PACs and candidates for Congress and the White House must file reports with the Federal Election Commission to show where their money comes from and how they spend it. We'll show you where (and when) to find this data, where the gold nuggets are buried, how to analyze it for stories, precautions to keep you off A2 and third-party tools to aid your deadline reporting. You'll leave with a treasure trove of how-to guides, a dozen or more story ideas and a free puppy.

This session is good for: Reporters looking for story ideas and reporting tips. Beginners and advanced data users welcome.

Speaker Bios

  • Aaron Bycoffe is a computational journalist at FiveThirtyEight. He has worked at The Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation, the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va., and the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. @bycoffe

  • Jack Gillum is a senior reporter at ProPublica covering the intersection of technology and civil rights, with a focus on algorithms and criminal justice. He’s previously covered D.C.-based investigations at The Washington Post and The Associated Press, and worked for USA Today and the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. @jackgillum  

  • Christopher Schnaars is a database editor with the USA TODAY Network, where he dabbles with campaign finance data, assists other reporters with data analysis and occasionally writes semi-functional Python code. @chrisschnaars

Related Tipsheets

  • Campaign Finance I: Mining FEC data
    USA Today's Chris Schnaars delves into what's up with campaign finance data from the FEC. His tipsheets and presentation go over the basics of the data and explain how to read the files and look at them in spreadsheet format.