Data Explanation for North Carolina

Data Acquisition

The North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) provides access to campaign finance reports through their website. There are four search interfaces:

  • By Committee/Entity – View campaign finance documents for any committee registered with the NCSBE by searching for the title of the committee or the name of the candidate.
  • By Document Type – View campaign finance documents for any committee registered with the NCSBE by type of document.
  • Reported Transactions – Search the campaign finance database for transactions in which committees have received (receipts) or spent (expenditures) funds.
  • Penalties to County and Municipal Committees – Search for penalties issued to committees.

Accessibility of campaign finance data varies from state to state, and the NCSBE does not provide a “full export” option. While these search interfaces allow users to search for very specific reports and transactions, users cannot easily explore or browse data.

Transparency USA uses the Committee/Entity interface to search for a full list of entities (filers), and then to visit the report list for each entity and scrape the report cover pages (covers). Then, we use the Reported Transactions interface to search for all transactions (categorized as receipts and expenditures) from each year and export the results. This is not as convenient as a file download but has proven to be reliable so far.

Filers reporting to the NCSBE submit up to 32 different paper forms in a reporting period, detailed here. One issue with the NCSBE data is that some reports are only available as scanned images, instead of data files. Transparency USA is currently unable to import any data from the scanned images.

Reported Data

Transparency USA uses four categories of data for our North Carolina database: filers, covers, receipts and expenditures. Explanations are provided below.

Filers

These records represent the candidates and PACs registered with the state.

Transparency USA imports these records as a framework to organize the remaining files.

Covers

These records represent summary information about each report filed by a filer.

Due to the nature of the Receipts and Expenditures records Transparency USA imports, we do not need to import these raw cover records. However, we do use them for validation purposes.

Receipts

All receipts except for loans and outstanding loans are imported by Transparency USA and displayed as contributions. Currently, this includes normal donations, as well as in-kind contributions, interest payments, and refunds. It also includes small donations under a certain threshold that have been rolled up into a single aggregate record for each report. These do not provide any information about the small donors. Unlike most states included on Transparency USA, some local data is included with the NCSBE reports, including mayoral races.

Receipts classified as loans are imported separately and are displayed by Transparency USA in the loans section of the site.

Expenditures

All expenditure records are imported and displayed by Transparency USA as expenditures. This includes normal operating expenditures, as well as donations to other committees, debt payments, and loan payments.