More fine work by 18F and the USDS.

The new API is just very tasty icing on the cake. The FEC has long been in the forefront of transparency in the U.S. federal government. As the Sunlight post says:

The FEC is a model disclosure authority: It has made federal campaign finance data available through a searchable web portal, in bulk CSV files, and, most impressively, a live feed of submitted disclosures. On Influence Explorer, we’ve made use of each of these sources in different ways — most recently turning that live feed into a searchable data resource, our Real-Time Federal Campaign Finance tracker.

For my data journalism classes, I’ve been remiss in not covering campaign finance. The data is intimidating. But now, with the Sunlight’s model example of how to write a how-to, I think the OpenFEC API can be a great entry point into learning about APIs, JSON, data, and American politics.

Some topics I’d like to cover:

  • How to find campaign contribution totals per cycle
  • Given a candidate, how to find totals per cycle. Or lifetime of committee.