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Political Spending: Exploring the Election-Industrial Complex in the 2014 Election Cycle

Illustration by DonkeyHotey.
Illustration by DonkeyHotey.
By OpenSecrets
Raising huge sums is only the first step for any candidate or committee. The money also has to be spent -- and reported to the Federal Election Commission. While disclosure is often vague or incomplete, the FEC's expenditures data sheds light on the strategies that campaigns use to turn dollars into votes, the vendors making a fortune on elections, and the groups living large on their donors' money.
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Campaigns must report to the FEC the purpose and payee of all disbursements over $200. The Center for Responsive Politics uses this information to classify campaign expenditures into nine major categories: Administrative, Campaign Expenses, Fundraising, Media, Contributions, Strategy & Research, Transfers, Wages & Salaries, and Unclassifiable.

Top Vendors 2014 Cycle

RankVendorAmountFrom ExpendituresFrom Independent Expenditures
1 Waterfront Strategies $136,704,026 $11,147,408 $125,556,618
2 Great American Media $119,870,370 $2,275,577 $117,594,793
3 National Media Research $91,583,810 $359,985 $91,223,825
4 Main Street Media $53,783,031 $180,247 $53,602,784
5 Screen Strategies Media $46,690,599 $45,112,813 $1,577,786
View All Vendors

Top Spending Candidate Committees 2014 Cycle

1 McConnell Senate Cmte '14 $28,265,382
2 Kay Hagan for US Senate $23,863,493
3 Al Franken for Senate 2014 $21,389,871
4 Alison for Kentucky $18,829,908
5 Friends of Mary Landrieu $18,630,874
View All Committees

 Reprinted with permission from Open Secrets.

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