Information on Maryland candidates’ campaign finance reporters is available at http://www.elections.state.md.us/campaign_finance/index.html.
What is it?
Information can be broken down by party, by candidate, by committee that contributed to that candidate, or even all the way down to individual donors.
You can see who donated to which candidates, how much they donated, and also how, in broad terms, the money was spent by the campaign.
Campaign finance reports can sometimes be difficult to navigate, but they can offer valuable information on how candidates stack up in terms of fundraising, offer a glimpse into what areas they are spending most of their money on, and what types of businesses or individuals may be funding them.
Using Maryland’s campaign finance database
At the website, click on the Campaign Finance Database link at left. This brings up a list of links to information about the database and how it is put together. A bolded link now on the main part of the page should say “Search the Database.” This guide is for the (Elections Center) version of the database, which should be the second link. Clicking on that brings you to the search engine. There are a number of different ways you can then search through the information.
Candidate tab: You can get an overview of the contributions to and expenditures by a candidate via the Candidate tab. Type in at least the last name of the candidate you wish to get information about, as well as which election cycle you are searching in. The election cycles are in four-year chunks, so if you pick the 2010 election cycle, you get information from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2010.
If more than one candidate has the name you put in, the search engine will offer a list for you to pick from.
A search in this tab gives you an overall breakdown of funding sources, a chart of source types (for instance, how much money came from federal groups or out-of-state PACs), a general expenditures breakdown and a list of slates the candidate belongs to.
Political party: In the political party tab, you can search for information on political party committees, with an option to search by county.
The results of a political parties search give you an overall breakdown of funding sources, a chart of source types (for instance, how much money came from federal groups or out-of-state PACs) broken down between campaign and administrative funds, and a general expenditures breakdown.
Slates, Issue Committees and PACs: If you know the name of a slate, issue committee or PAC you want to look up, you can input it directly in this tab, along with an election cycle. In the case of slates, you can also search by a candidate, see what slates are associated with that candidate, then click through to see the information.
The results of a slates search give you an overall breakdown of funding sources, a chart of source types (for instance, how much money came from federal groups or out-of-state PACs) broken down between campaign and administrative funds, and a general expenditures breakdown
Contributors: If you want to see who a specific individual or business may have donated to, you would use this tab. You can search by first or last name (or both) or by company name within each election cycle.
The results list shows you how many donations were made by people or companies that match the terms you searched for, as well as how much the donations were for, what date they were received and what group they were given to.
Please note, there is no way to tell apart donations from two different people or companies with the same name.
Advanced Search: The Advanced Search allows you to search through the database using many different criteria, including some of those searched in previous tabs as well as some other details, such as the amount of the donation or the dates the donations were made. It also offers a variety of ways to sort the results.
Cycle overview: This will allow you to look at overall data for an election cycle, rather than information based on who made or received the donation. It can be broken down by incumbent and non-incumbent candidates, and you can choose one or more election cycles to look at. The information can be expressed either as averages or as totals.