George W. Bush is releasing daily lists of donors to his campaign. However, he is only doing so in the inconvenient PDF format. I am extracting the ASCII text from those PDF documents and posting them here as tab-delimited documents that can be easily imported into any good spreadsheet or database, from which they can be searched, sorted, etc.
The conversion program is very rough, and may have flaws. Please let me know of any problems you find (e.g. a dollar amount where you'd expect to see a date or some such) by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are definitely areas for improvement. Of course, the Bush campaign could just make this all moot by releasing their data in its original format...
Update, 10/27/1999: The files now seem to be found at http://www.georgewbush.com/contribute/index.html (Scroll down to the lower left hand corner to see the links to the PDF files. The format has changed a little. I'll have to adjust my conversion program to match.
Update, 10/18/1999: Bush has redesigned his web site. In the process he appears to have removed the daily donor lists. If anyone spots them, let me know.
Update, 10/8/1999: The Tampa Tribune picked up this story.
Update, 9/24/1999: Now that I'm back from my recent trip abroad, I wanted to try to automate the processing of the files and post new ones every day. However, it seems that George W. Bush is no longer posting them on his web site. The page is still there but all the links to the donor lists in PDF format are broken. I do not know whether or not this is intentional. I'll try to find out.
OK. It seems that the files are now at http://www.georgewbush.com/FecList/ but the links to them on http://www.georgewbush.com/FecList/downloads.htm are broken. I should probably tell the webmaster about this, but as is all too common on too many corporate sites no email address is provided for the person responsible for that page!
Update, 9/15/1999: First names, last names, title, cities, and states are all now separated into individual fields so it's easy to sort or search on them.
Update, 9/14/1999: Several people have found some definite flaws in the converted data. In particular some (but not most) of the records where the donor is not employed are shifted to the left one column. Thus what should be a date may actually be an amount and so forth. I think I've now fixed all of these, but please let me know if you find any more. On the other hand, even with the flaws, my estimate is that if you use these files to calculate your results won't be off by more than +/-1% and probably less.
Several people have also noted that the total donations based on these files is much less than the huge amount reported in the press. That's because these files only cover donations in roughly the July-August time frames. Donations prior to that time frame are available from the official filings to the FEC, as are records for other candidates as well. However, to my knowledge no other candidates have yet released any information for the current quarter.
I omitted the RCPT (recipient) field from the original PDFs because as far as I could tell it always had the same value, "P", and I didn't know what that meant. I also omitted some comments that were in the original file such as "REATTRIBUTION OR REDESIGNATION REQUESTED (AUTOMATIC)" and "REFUND HAS OCCURRED". I may try to add these back in in the future.
So far I'm only doing this for Bush because as far as I know he's the only one who's made this data available, albeit in an inconvenient format. I encourage other campaigns to do so as well. I also encourage them to use a much more basic, simple format than PDF so I don't have to do all this for them!
Please excuse the roughness of this page. I'm concentrating on quickly posting complete, tab delimited files. I want to expand this to cover corporate and PAC donations as well as making it available in HTML, XML, and Microsoft Excel formats. I also want to automatically update my files to match the new Bush files as they're posted every day. I'm still working on these.
Actually it took me about six hours and $0.00 :-)
His Web site, www.georgewbush.com, lists the donor's name as well as employer and occupation, provided such information is provided or can be obtained. It also lists the amount of the donation and the donor's home city and state.
But since it cannot be downloaded, there is no computer-enhanced ability to sift through the information.
To do it by hand would cost thousands of dollars and require thousands of hours, consumer spokespersons said.