Frequently asked questions regarding the PDC's disclosure systems. These questions and answers are intended to help you understand what tools are available to help you follow the money.


What is Campaign Explorer?

Campaign Explorer is the PDC's new tool for getting quick answers to questions about campaign finances. It is designed to make it easier for the public to find the information without training or knowledge of PDC systems.

A candidate picked full reporting but her information doesn’t show up in the Campaign Explorer. Why?

The candidate is likely filing her reports on paper. Some candidates pick full reporting even though they plan to raise no more than $5,000. One reason could be that they plan to accept more than $500 from a single source, a circumstance which makes them ineligible for mini reporting. Electronic reporting is required only for those candidates who spend more than $5,000. If a candidate files her reports on paper, the information they contain will not be available in the database. But you still can view their reports under the "report" tab on the candidate page.

Why would I want to use this search function?

You might be interested in using this tool if you want to only find the races in your community. The PDC website uses voter registration data from the Secretary of State's office to identify just those elections happening in your jurisdiction.

What if I am not a registered voter?

You can still use the search function to narrow down the information to just those campaigns in your community. Type your street name into the search field on the PDC home page, and pick the address from the dropdown menu that is closest to your house.

Why am I seeing all the City Council races when my ballot allows me to vote on only a few of them?

The "campaigns in your voting district" function narrows the results to your jurisdiction, but does not drill down as far as your specific council district so your results may include races that you're not eligible to vote on.

What happens to my address data after I enter it into the PDC website?

It is retained only on your computer, in your browser. The PDC does not keep any of the information. If you don't want to store your address because you're using someone else's computer or prefer to start fresh every time you visit the PDC website, click the box "This is a public computer" before entering your address.

What if I want to see all the races for a certain election year rather than just the ones in my community?

Click on "Explore more ways to follow the money." Select the Campaign Explorer button. Your screen should now say "All campaigns."

I live in a small town, and I don’t see the candidates for my jurisdiction on the PDC website. Why?

Candidates running for offices in jurisdictions of fewer than 5,000 registered voters usually do not have reporting requirements with the PDC unless they plan to raise more than $5,000.

Do you have a data API for programmers?

The PDC's Open Data portal supports both OData and SODA (Socrata Open Data API). SODA is more feature-rich. In fact, all the PDC's website features such as "Follow the money", "Campaign explorer", and "Campaign overview" are built 100 percent on the SODA API.

Our data set catalog lists all the data that is available and the metadata necessary to understand the data. There is also an introductory video on using the portal on that same page. The portal provides a nice way to explore the query capability before making API calls.

For anyone who wants to use Drupal CMS to access the API, we also have a SODA compatible data provider for the Drupal/Forena reporting engine.

We are continually looking for opportunities to publish more data. We have an open data program that is open to public participation. We want to make sure we are focused on providing the data that people need to answer the questions they have, and we welcome suggestions for enhancements of the open data program.

What does “not raising $5,000” mean on a race overview page?

Candidates who show that designation under the "reporting" column have chosen mini reporting because they don't plan to raise more than $5,000. Under mini reporting, a candidate does not have to file contribution and expenditure reports, so the information available on the PDC site about his campaign will be limited.

A candidate or committee appears to have spent more than received. How can that be?

The candidate or committee likely had carry-forward cash from the previous election or year. That information is reported on the "overview" tab as the beginning balance. Candidates are permitted to transfer surplus campaign funds from one campaign to the next provided they are running for the same office.

I heard about an independent expenditure a group made in support of a candidate, but I can’t find it in PDC reports. Why might that be?

The PDC relies on groups and individuals making independent expenditures to correctly report the name of the candidate they are supporting or opposing. If the name is not reported correctly, our system might not be able to match it to an existing candidate. For that same reason, the independent expenditure totals in a race might not be complete.

I’m a Mac user. Why does nothing happen when I click on the download links?

Most devices will open these spreadsheet files with a single click, but some may not. If the file does not open automatically, right click on the link to open the file with a program that can handle spreadsheets, such as Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers.

What is a “caucus committee”?

There are four caucus committees in Washington, one for each political party in each chamber of the Legislature. They are segregated in our reports because they operate under different rules. They have their own contribution limits, for example, and are one of the few allowable recipients of candidate surplus funds.

The "loading" message is all I see when I try to look at data. What's the problem?

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