Where does this data come from?

The Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission publishes data every week that reports and analyzes donations, loans, spending and other campaign activity for state and local elections. The World-Herald programmed methods to download, parse and display those transactions as reported by committees that received or spent money.

How is this different from NADC's own website?

Most importantly, our site lets you search by donor name. You can see how much a person or group has donated and where that person's money went. In addition, the NADC tracks topline totals as reported by the campaigns. Our totals, meanwhile, are based only on individual transactions. This can lead to discrepancies between NADC figures and our own. For example, campaigns report donations only over $250. But their totals reported to the NADC include donations of less than that amount. Because we don't receive data on those smaller donations, our totals may be lower. The page for any committee that reports topline totals to the NADC includes a link to those records for comparison purposes.

Where are contributions to president, senate and other federal races?

Federal contributions are not tracked by the NADC, and hence not included. To explore that data, we recommend the Center for Responsive Politics' search tool.

I know a donation was made, but it doesn't appear here. Why?

It could be related to the size of the campaign. Campaigns that raise less than $5,000 are not required to report anything to the NADC. It could be due to the size of the donation, as campaigns are not required to report donations of less than $250. It could also be a matter of timing - campaigns are only required to file reports a few times a year.

Why isn't there more information about a committee?

The NADC reports a committee's name, the candidate or ballot issue it supports, its named officers and the city where it is based. Details on an independent committee's purpose are not reported to the NADC. That information can usually be gleaned by looking at a committee's spending, donations, donors and the like.

Why do some donors show up multiple times?

The NADC makes no attempt to standardize donor data. Gov. Peter Ricketts, for example, appears in the database as Peter Ricketts, Pete Ricketts and J. Peter Ricketts. He also appears with two identification numbers under the same name. To the NADC, these all represent different people. For large donors such as Gov. Ricketts, The World-Herald has attempted to standardize these records. Many donors still appear multiple times.

If you see records that ought to be standardized, please contact matt.wynn@owh.com.

Process, assumptions and limitations

The code used to process and display the data is on Github here and here.

The NADC maintains 62 tables that track campaign finance and lobbying. We had planned to include all of them. In practice, that approach created inaccuracies while providing little additional detail.

Instead, we chose to include donations only as reported by the receiving committees. Even with this approach, there were some duplicate donations to the same committee from the same donor for the same amount on the same day. After consulting with the NADC about some large examples of such duplication, we eliminated duplicates that fit those criteria. If you'd like the raw information, complete with duplicates, we maintain a feed.

In the end, 13 tables wound up in the data powering this site:

  • B1AB: Donations reported by campaign and ballot question committees.
  • B2A: Donations reported by political party committees, such as the Douglas County Republican Party or the Nebraska Democratic Party.
  • B4A: Donations reported by independent campaign committees, those not officially aligned with any single campaign.
  • B1D: Expenditures reported by campaign and ballot question committees.
  • B2B: Expenditures by political party committees. While the table also includes donations by political party committees, we did not include them here to avoid duplication.
  • B4B1: Expenditures and loans as reported by independent committees. Again, we excluded information on the committees' donations to avoid duplication.
  • B4B3: "Disbursements" by independent committees. Similar to B4B1.
  • B6: Independent expenditures reported to the NADC.
  • B73: "Indirect contributions" from corporations, unions or other associations. While the raw data tracks in-kind donations and personal services, we track only independent expenditures.

Data from multiple tables were used to identify entities that received or gave donations.

This raw data was compressed into five tables:

Entity: Any group, committee, donor, lender or other entity that has been assigned a unique ID by the NADC. This is the parent table.

Donation: Money, in-kind donations, "direct expenditures" to a committee.

Candidate: Candidates tied to campaign committees and ballot questions.

Loan: Loans borrowed, repaid or forgiven by committees.

Expenditure: Includes both administrative expenses and "targeted" expenses that were earmarked to support or oppose a candidate or committee.

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