Federal Election Commission

The Federal Election Commission is an independent government agency was created in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandals to regulate campaign spending and police requirements for disclosing federal campaign money. The six commissioners are evenly split — three Democrats and three Republicans. The FEC collects and publishes reports of receipts and expenditures by candidates for president, Senate and House, and from political parties and federal political action committees.

The FEC’s website offers a full compendium of the laws and regulations governing campaigns and elections. The site also features a page with quick answers to common questions about the FEC and election law. The FEC offers the ability to search the disclosure database within the sub-page campaign finance reports and data, or to search the reports of funds raised and spent that candidates must file with the FEC. Other sites, such as the Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org, historically have been easier to navigate, but fec.gov is improving. Official vote results for presidential and congressional elections are also available on the website.

Comments: The FEC staff does a good job of providing Internet access to the information the agency collects. It’s worth noting that the FEC is the repository of most, but not all, reports about money raised and spent in federal campaigns: certain independent nonprofit groups report instead to the Internal Revenue Service.