Rachel Buchanan, Project Vote Smart Intern Reporter
Money and politics tend to go hand in hand, but most of us have no idea exactly what goes on behind the campaigns and into the confusing world of finances. Stay confused no longer because here are some easy tips to accessing financial information regarding your favorite politicians.The Project Vote Smart website is the first stop. We have financial information just a click away and our data is, of course, represented by non-profit, non-partisan organizations. General help to understanding things like the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, who can contribute, spending limits, and Political Action Committees can be found in our Government 101 section under Campaign Finance. This section is easy to comprehend and explains political jargon like "soft money" and puzzling bans that outlaw contributions to national parties, but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties. This section also explains the restrictions behind campaign expenditures and obscure amendments like the "Millionaire's Amendment", which expands contribution limits for candidates who face wealthy opponents. In addition, there is a clearly organized chart that lays out exactly who can give how much money, and when, to a particular campaign.
To go a little deeper, our website also allows the public to access campaign finance data for congress, presidents, governors, and state legislators. By simply selecting a state, political position, and particular politician, financial data and visual graphs and charts for anyone of your choice is at the convenience of your fingertips. Project Vote Smart will also provide you with other links where more information can be found as needed. For our website, all data for congress and presidents is provided by the Center for Responsive Politics and The Institute on Money in State Politics provides all data for governors and state legislators. Additional information can always be found at the state offices of your particular search and Project Vote Smart provides a campaign finance page for each elected official where contact information is readily available.
Fortunately, if you are still confused or desire more information regarding campaign finances Project Vote Smart has one more thing to offer, if you happen to be in the southern Arizona area. On April 1, 2008 Project Vote Smart and the Political Science Department at The University of Arizona are holding a forum titled "Show Me the Money! Campaign Finance Issues and Controversies". Talented speakers, Eric Ehst, Executive Director of the Clean Elections Institute in Phoenix, and University of Arizona Professor Tom Volgy, will be sharing their knowledge on the increasing expense of campaigns, recent controversial proposals, and court rulings on campaign finances. Lastly, more information can always be obtained by calling the Tucson office 520-626-8752.