The Indiana Secretary of State provides access to campaign finance reports in two ways:
- Web Interface Search
- A web interface provides users the ability to search by specific criteria for reports, individual contributions, expenditures, and committees. Note that checking the Export Results Only option when searching contributions and expenditures returns a different set of data points than without it checked. As in most states, the available data is focused on individual filings. There are some summaries of data per committee, but browsing between committees exchanging money is not easy.
- CSV Downloads
- A set of downloads provides comma-separated-value (CSV) files for contributions and expenditures. The data available in these files appears to mirror the results from the contribution and expenditure searches, but there are differences.
The data acquired from these sources is inconsistently formatted, and sometimes a detail from one source doesn’t exist in another. As a result, Transparency USA has used a combination of record types from the Secretary of State website to compile the most complete campaign finance picture in Indiana.
- Committees – In order to gather a complete list of committees, Transparency USA scrapes the Committee search interface with progressively more specific search terms in the “name begins with” field.
- Contributions – Transparency USA found that the contributions CSVs contain duplicate records due to the reporting of large contributions in multiple reports. The CSVs do not contain any information that would help us remove those duplicates with a high level of confidence. As a result, we decided to scrape the searches for contribution data, which is a two-step process:
- Search for contributions filtering by an individual date, for each day of the year. When we use the Export Results Only option this gives us unique identifiers we can use to remove those duplicates.
- Scrape the contribution details page for each of the records found in the first step. This is required to collect some details not included in the search results.
- Expenditures – Transparency USA imports the expenditure CSV files. Unlike contributions, the expenditure CSVs don’t appear to have the same duplication problem. and the expenditure CSV download contained some additional data points that scraping does not have.
With our Indiana data compiled, we have three record types: Committees, Contributions, and Expenditures.
Transparency USA uses data from all of these record types. Explanations are provided below.
These records represent the candidates and PACs registered with the state.
Transparency USA imports these records as a framework to organize the remaining files.
The contribution data obtained from Indiana contains a few different record types:
- Direct, in-kind, and unitemized contributions reported on standard reports – These records are displayed by Transparency USA as-is in our contributions category.
- Contributions reported on special large contribution reports – These are excluded from reporting by Transparency USA since they are duplicates of transactions reported on standard reports.
- Loans – These records indicate money received when a debt is incurred. Indiana summarizes loans and contributions together, since they both represent money received by the committee. However, Loan records are reported by Transparency USA in our dedicated loans section. As a result, our contribution totals may not always align with Indiana’s.
- Debts – These records indicate outstanding debt that a committee needs to repay. This is not to be confused with Loan records, which indicate the actual money received by the committee. The loan is reported once when the money is received, then debts are reported repeatedly on every report until the debts are paid off (See example after Expenditures for more about loans and debts). Transparency USA doesn’t maintain a list of outstanding loans, so these records are excluded from our contributions list.
Expenditure data from Indiana can also be broken down into a few categories:
- Direct, in-kind, and unitemized expenditures – These records are displayed by Transparency USA as-is in our expenditures category.
- Payment of debt – These records represent money spent by a committee toward the repayment of a loan. If a committee has paid all of their debts, the Payment of Debt records should mirror their Loan records. They are reported and summarized as expenditures by both Indiana and Transparency USA.
- Debt payment – Debt payment records appear to represent a fully paid debt and exist as an indicator that no portion of an individual debt remains outstanding. As a result, Debt Payment records duplicate Payment of Debt records in value. These are reported similarly to contribution Debt records, so they are summarized in their own category by Indiana, and excluded by Transparency USA.
Loans and Debts Example
Since loans, debts, payments of debt, and debt payments are acquired along with the contribution and expenditure data, they have already been mentioned above. The following example demonstrates why Transparency USA excludes two of those record types to best represent the actual debt incurred.
- If a committee takes out a loan for $1,000, they will report the following:
- A $1,000 Loan, showing up in the contribution records.
- A $1,000 Debt, also showing up in the contribution records.
- If the committee has not made a loan payment by the time they file their next report, they would report:
- A $1,000 Debt, showing up again in their contribution records, even though no new debt was taken on.
- If the committee pays off half of the debt, the next report would contain:
- A $500 Payment of Debt expenditure.
- A $1,000 Debt, since the loan hasn’t been paid off in full.
- If the committee pays off the rest of the debt, the next report would contain:
- A $500 Payment of Debt expenditure.
- A $1,000 Debt Payment, showing up in their expenditure records.
In this scenario, the committee borrowed and paid back $1,000. Transparency USA will display this as a $1,000 loan, and a $1,000 expenditure. If the Debt and Debt Payment records were not excluded, this would appear to be a $1,000 Loan plus $3,000 in Debt totaling $4,000 in money received, and $1,000 of Payment of Debt plus $1,000 of Debt Payment totaling $2,000 of expenditures.
Transparency USA displays the current party affiliation for active candidates and officeholders. The party information displayed may not be accurate:
- For candidates who are not actively running for or serving in state-level office
- When accessing candidate or officeholder data from previous election cycles
Party affiliation for active candidates and officeholders is provided by Ballotpedia.