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Michigan State University

Political Science / Public Policy Resources: Campaign Finance


Welcome to the Campaign Finance Research Guide. Here you will find general information about locating resources on campaign finance in the MSU Libraries and beyond. Note the many tabs at the top of the page. Click on the appropriate tab for more information. Some items are duplicated in more than one location.


Campaign finance as used in this guide refers to contributions to election campaigns by individuals and groups. It does not include lobbying, but does include new third party (SuperPACs and anonymous 'social welfare' organizations) that spend independetly on election advertising.

Subject Headings and Browsing

Campaign Finance is not an official subject heading even though it's the term most of us think of when discussing the issue. The official subject heading used is Campaign Funds. Using both for searching is recommended. Below is an abbreviated guide for browsing topics in the field of campaign finance and elections.

Campaign Funds           JK 1991

                                           KF 4920 (Law Library)

Elections                          JF 1001+, JK 1856+ (U.S.)

Lobbying                          JF 529, JK 1118 (U.S.)

Local/Municipal Gov't     JS

       Detroit                        JS 831-849

Michigan Gov't                 JK 5801-5893

Political parties               JF 2011+, JK 2255 (U.S.)

Voting                                JF 1001+, JK 1961 (U.S.)

Citizens United vs. FEC

The Supreme Court Ruling in Citizens United v. FEC shifted dramatically the nature of campaign finance. See the Library of Congress page on the case HERE

Think Tanks

Americans for Campaign Reform - a bipartisan group that believes that public financing of election campaigns is vital to our democracy. Founded by former senators Warren Rudman (R), Alan Simpson (R), Bill bradley (D), and Bob Kerrey (D).

Brookings Institution Campaign Finance – noted think tank’s coverage of campaign finance issues and data.

Campaign Legal Center – “Representing the public interest in enforcement of campaign and media law.”

Center for Competitive Politics – “protecting speech, assembly and petition rights.”

Center for Responsive Politics: - Information and analysis on money and influence in US government.

Common Cause – “holding the powerful accountable.”

Justice at Stake – national partnership looking at fair and impartial courts (includes elections of judges).

Michigan Campaign Finance Network – first stop for info on tracking money in Michigan elections.

Money in Politics – from the Brennan Center for Justice a review of issues, policies, etc.

Public Campaign – “is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.”

State Integrity Investigation – tracks and rates states on campaign finance and 13 other integrity based categories.

Selected Web Sites

Campaign Disclosure Law Database– compiled at UCLA covers FEC and all state level statutes and regulations.</p>

Campaign Money Search for campaign contributions by candidate or contributor, back to 2000. Also lists current fundraising totals, 527s, lobbyists and industries (federal).

Dirty Energy Money – Tracks contributions from fossil fuel companies to members of Congress and how they vote. :  Nonpartisan, nonprofit, "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

Follow the Money - From the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Tracks political donations for state races in all 50 states.

Follow the Unlimited Money - From the Sunlight Foundation, tracks donations and spending from super PACS and other outside groups.

Influence Explorer – from the Sunlight Foundation which gathers lots of information on influence among legislators, officials, and lobbyists.

Michigan Policy Network : The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College.

National Center for Policy Analysis : Pro free market position papers on public policy, including campaign finance reform, crime, education, environment, health care reform, minimum wage, social security, and welfare. Features sections focusing on issues before Congress, pro and con commentary on the same topic, and links to opinions of other think tanks. 

National Conference of State Legislatures : NCSL has a useful page of links to sources on state level campaign finance reform laws and policies.

National Institute on Money in State Politics - Tracks contributions and expenditures for candidates, PACs, committees, ballot measures, and independent expenditures for each state. Easy to use tool allows you to type in your street address to identify your districts of state representation. : Analyzes campaign finance filings in every imaginable way: by political party, zip code, state, individual donor, industry, and more. Although the front-page emphasis is federal, state-level data is available for more than half of the nation as well. The states with coverage are shown in green on the map under the Get Local! tab. The site offers profiles of state representatives, of political parties and their committees, and of the top individual donors in the current (or most recent) election.

Policy Archive : a comprehensive digital library of public policy research containing over 30,000 documents.

Politics 1 : One of the most complete resources available on the web, provides information on state and national elections, issues and debates, parties and even a historical perspective. The state-by-state sections direct the reader to numerous relevant links, state histories and candidate profiles. The presidential election page will give you a guide to all the candidates running and their sites if available. Good links to center-left-right sites.

Public Campaign - Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics

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