Federal Campaign Statements
Campaign statements for federal offices - the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the Offices of the President and the Vice President - are filed with the Federal Election Commission.
In addition, "527 committees," which are groups involved in political activities but that operate independently of a particular candidate or political party, file their statements (called form 8872) with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The groups file with the IRS because of their tax-exempt status, and "527" refers the the section of the federal tax code dealing with tax-exempt political groups.
These 527 committees may support candidates, launch political advertising campaigns of their own or do grass-roots organizing, such as voter registration drives.
Television stations also are required by the Federal Communications Commission to report political advertising purchases by political campaign committees on all levels.
What's Available Online
Federal Election Commission
The FEC's online database of campaign contribution reports is searchable by candidate/office holder or by individual donor, as well as by the names of campaign committees and political action committees.
To get street addresses for individual contributors, click on the link for the image number to the right of the listing for a contributor's name. That will call up an electronic copy of the section of the campaign report that lists the contributor and their address.
You also can download electronic copies of many of the reports in different formats. Links to the download sites are at:
Internal Revenue Service - 527 Committees
The IRS has a online database for searching campaign contribution and expenditure reports filed by independent 527 committees, which are groups involved in political activities that operate independent of a particular candidate or political party. They may support a candidate, launch advertising campaigns of their own or do grass-roots organizing, such as voter registration drives.
When doing a search, be sure to check the box for Form 8872 (which lists expenditures and contributions). And to view the reports, you'll need to open them with Adobe Acrobat Reader (Apple's Preview program for reading PDF files does not appeqr to work with these documents).
Federal Communications Commission
The FCC has an online database of reports filed by television stations of political advertisements paid for by political campaign committees of all types. At the page type in the call letters for a local TV station. Then at the new page click on the light blue and red star icon for "political files" in the menu near the top (roll over the icon with your mouse cursor and the words "political files" will appear).
OpenSecrets, run by the Center for Responsive Politics, has searchable databases for individual donors, political action committees and 527 committees.
CQ Money Line
Formerly called FECInfo, this is a non-governmental website that has an even more extensive database than the official FEC site such as candidate filings dating back to the 1980 election. It was set up originally by a former FEC official.
Note: accessing detailed information requires a paid subscription.