About #FollowtheMoneyCO

FollowtheMoneyCO is a joint project of the media collaborative COLab and the Colorado Sun, funded by the Colorado Media Project and the Colorado Sun.

The project aims to make Colorado campaign finance data more accessible to journalists and the public using downloadable data from the Colorado Secretary of State’s TRACER.

Need more info on querying the data? Click here to read more about using SQL.

The latest

Independent spending in Colorado is now featured in the outside spending database. Search by candidate, contest or spender is recommended. Note that not all filers include the type of spending. Additional electioneering spending by nonprofits or committees also is included. If the position is listed as affiliated, it doesn't explicitly support or oppose the candidate named.

Where the data comes from

The data comes from bulk downloads on TRACER, the state’s campaign finance data system.

Sandra Fish, the Colorado data journalist managing the project, uses Python, Pandas and Jupyter notebook to create the tables, which are pared down from the original and include full names for contributors and payment recipients. These names have not been standardized.

For legislative candidates, the TRACER data is merged with a list of candidate committee numbers. Other tables are created by selecting committee types.

Information about contribution limits for various types of committees may be found on this page, from the Secretary of State’s Office. The Campaign Finance Institute also offers an interactive database of campaign finance and disclosure laws in all 50 states, which is a great way to compare Colorado to other states.

Future plans

In the future, FollowtheMoneyCO will feature standardized city and state names.

If you have questions, requests or feedback please email fish(at)coloradomediaproject.com

Table descriptions

The tables include:

Table nameDescription
house_cand_expensesSpending by state House candidates
house_cand_contFundraising by state House candidates
issue_comm_contFundraising by issue committees, including small-donor issue committees (typically these work on state or local ballot initiatives). Keep in mind that some of these committees were focused on 2019 satewide issues.
issue_comm_expSpending by issue committees
leg_loansLoans by legislative candidates to their campaigns. This includes repayments, to the balance is the best number to use. Also check the loan date, as some may have been made in prior campaign cycles.
senate_cand_expensesSpending by state Senate candidates. This is limited only to candidates for 2020 and includes data from 2017 through the present.
senate_cand_contFundraising by state Senate candidates. This is limited only to candidates for 2020 and includes data from 2017 through the present.
super_pacs_contFundraising by independent expenditure committees and 527 committees. Both of these committees may accept unlimited contributions from individuals or corporations. Key caveat: Some groups have both IECs and 527s with one committee taking donations and passing them to another. Examining the committee_type is essential to avoid double-counting.
super_pacs_expSpending by independent expenditure committees and 527 committees. Both these committees may spend unlimited amounts of money to support or oppose candidates as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidates.
trad_pacs_contFundraising by traditional political action committees, political party committees and small donor committees.
trad_pacs_expSpending by traditional political action committees, political party committees and small donor committees.