Each quarter, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires Congressional campaign committees to provide an in-depth accounting of the funding it has raised and spent over the course of the reporting period. These reports provide a clear view of the candidate or committee’s operations and fiscal health.
The April, July, and October quarterly filings are due on the 15th of their respective months, and the year-end report which covers the final three months of the calendar year is due on January 31.
What’s in a FEC report?
- A campaign committee is required to disclose the total amount of money raised and if the source of the contribution is from a PAC or an individual. Examining PAC contributions provides insight into the amount of backing from the party’s leadership, and what companies and industries are supporting a particular candidate. For individuals, every contribution over $50 must be reported with detailed information about the contributor, including personal information such as their address and employment if available. Contributions under $50, “small dollar donations,” are only reported in aggregate with no personal identifiable information.
- All disbursements by the committee must be reported, this includes expenses, reimbursements, and salaries. This allows for a detailed examination of the vendors, staff, and other notable expenses of a campaign.
- Committees are required to report new and outstanding loans. These loans are typically provided by the candidate themselves, and provide insight into if a campaign is receiving genuine donor backing or is being self-funded.
Cash On Hand:
- Committees must report the total amount of money they have available to spend on campaign activities.
- The telltale sign of a committee’s financial strength is its burn rate. Is the committee spending more than it has raised? If so, this indicates that the committee is in financial straits as it will be unable to sustain itself unless contributions pick up or spending is curbed.
How does the Look Ahead Strategies’ team utilize these reports?
Look Ahead Strategies has extensive experience analyzing federal and state campaign finance filings to identify opportunities for our clients to highlight contributions to their opposition from controversial donors, problematic disbursements, and more. These insights can serve as the foundation for earned and paid media campaigns to advance key narratives. Learn more about the Look Ahead Strategies “Research Stack” here.