In early September, candidates for Boise city offices submitted their required candidacy paperwork. On Nov. 5, Boiseans will vote for mayor and three City Council members.
On Thursday, Oct. 10, for the first time, Boiseans can see who is giving money to those candidates this election cycle. Reports submitted under the “Oct. 10 Pre-General” filings cover the period from the date a candidate certified the campaign’s treasurer through Sept. 30.
The Idaho Statesman has created a searchable database for the public to see who is giving their financial support to which candidates and issues in the upcoming Boise election.
To see all donations, leave the search fields empty and just hit the “Search” button.
The next filing deadline will be Oct. 29, covering Oct. 1 through Oct. 20. After that is 48-hour notice deadline for any contributions of $1,000 or more made from Oct. 21 to Nov. 2. A post-election report is due Dec. 5, and an annual report Jan. 31, 2020.
Contributions from candidates must be reported. Individuals, corporations, political action committees or other entities can contribute up to $1,000 to a candidate or a committee organized on the candidate’s behalf per election. There are no limits on amounts that can be collected by candidates, political action committees, or committees formed to support or oppose ballot measures.
This database will be updated as candidates submit their filings listing cash donors, and it was last updated at 5:05 p.m. Not all candidates are yet listed as the Statesman processes their filings. Adriel Martinez and Wayne Richey, mayoral candidates, submitted their finance reports but had no contributions, so they do not appear in the database.
BEHIND OUR REPORTING
Why did we create this database?
In Boise, campaign finance reports are available on the city website, but they require clicking through each individual candidate. Those documents are also scanned PDF files, which means they’re unsearchable. We wanted to create a place someone could go not only to see all the cash donations made to candidates but also to search by candidate, by donor and by donation amount.
Read more by clicking the arrow in the upper right.
How did we create this database?
We pulled information from the city’s clearinghouse for all election data. All data included in this database is public and is available directly from the city. We opted not to include donors’ specific addresses but did include cities and states.
For candidates who filled out the standard contribution form, we brought the data in ourselves by hand. Some candidates uploaded there donation data in a different file, and we asked those candidates specifically for spreadsheets. Most gave them to us.
For candidates who did not give us access to their donor spreadsheets (which are already public information), we took what they gave to the city clerk and ran them through a program called that does something called “Optical Character Recognition.” That program effectively uses tools to read words from a scanned PDF and tries to convert them into a usable spreadsheet. It helps cut down the time significantly, but sometimes it can make errors we do not catch.
What if I see an error?
If there’s a mistake, we want to get it fixed. Reach out to Hayley Harding, who reports on the city of Boise for the Idaho Statesman, at email@example.com.