New tool helps public navigate campaign finance data

The Public Disclosure Commission has released a new tool for members of the public looking for information about candidates' campaign finances.

Campaign Explorer provides an overview of money in state and local races. It provides quick access to a campaign's top contributors, most recent expenses, and all loans, debts and pledges. It also shows independent expenditures made by third parties in support of or opposition to a candidate.

Share links allow users to easily post what they find on Facebook and Twitter. And people who want to dig deeper can see images of all reports filed by a candidate and download complete campaign finance data via prominent links on each tab.

Campaign Explorer is part of phase 2 of the Next Generation Data Access Project. The agency completed the first phase of the project in March when it made 5+ million records available on the State of Washington Open Data Portal and new PDC Open Data Catalog.

More improvements are coming — among them, political committee data, the ability to compare candidates' expenditures and contributions, and a filter that will show users only the races on their ballot.

The PDC has a long history of making data freely available online. It chose to release the current version of Campaign Explorer prior to the Aug. 1 primary in the spirit of providing value to the public as soon as possible.

Campaign Explorer can be found under the Browse section of the homepage.