Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I search for a political action committee or a particular candidate?

Easy as pie.

Figure 1: Getting Started with CASHTracker.

Type in any words that you think might be a part of the PAC's name. See Figure 1. The more keywords you enter, the narrower your search results will be. As an example, if you enter the word "Conservation", you will get several results whose names contain the word "Conservation." Page through the results until you find the entry you want. Then just click on the name of the organization.

CASHTracker will include all contribution and expenditure records for between the From Date and the To Date. By default, CASHTracker goes back 2 years. If you want to look furtherbackin history, just go back as far as you want by changing the From Date.

Figure 2: Result listing with hints.

For candidates, it's just as easy. Start by entering the last name of the candidate. For example, entering Bedke, will result in several entries whose last names are "Bedke." Just click on the name of the entry.

Once the results are returned, you will find the information depicted in Figure 2. Basically, anything that is blue is a link to more information. Clicking on the name in the upper left corner of a listing will reveal details on that listing. In the example, you can see that Rep. Scott Bedke has a very high CASH-O-METER score. This means that he has way more PAC and Corporate contributions than he does Individual contributions. Notice also, that the "Swamp Creature Warning" appears. Rep. Scott Bedke is one of the biggest Swamp Creatures in the Idaho Legislature.

When a person, candidate or PAC has multiple listings, clicking on the "Include In Rollup" checkbox will enable you to get details on all checked listings at one time. Once the "Include In Rollup" "Combined Details" link will open a detail window containing the combined statistics, contributors and expenditures for all grouped listings. See Figure 3. Make sure that you only check the boxes for the correct listings. It is possible to group any listing in the list, even one that does not belong to the candidate or PAC you are interested in. This will skew the numbers and add contributions or donations that do not belong to that individual or organization.

Figure 3: Rolup checkbox and Combined Listing.

Once you are on the detail page, you can click on any blue text to pull up detailed information on any contributor or expenditure of a candidate. See Figure 4. You can also click on the image to instantly Google the contributor or expenditure.

IMPORTANT TIP: When you are tracing income or expenditures by clicking on the blue links on a detail page, remember to go back to the main page and search for them by name. This is important because there may be more than one entry in CASHTracker for that PAC or person. Searching for them by name should show you all of ther entries. Also, some groups are enterd by their full name and their abbreviations. The Political Action Committee for Education is also in CASHTracker under PACE.

How many years of information does CASHTracker currently contain?

As of this date, contributions and expenditures from 2009 through 2016 are included.

Why should I use CASHTracker?

Do you care whether your politicians represent you as opposed to corporations and special interests? Do you care that politicians uphold their oath of office? Do you wonder why your elected officials vote the way they do in spite of objections from their constituents? Do you ever wonder how politicians get reelected year after year no matter what?

If you answered "YES" to any of the above questions, you need CASHTracker.

CASHTracker is the easiest way to see where your elected officials get their money.

Use CASHTracker to view campaign contributions to your elected officials. "Follow the money" all the way from your local politician back up the chain to see who is "funding the funders." If you are a concerned citizen wondering what businesses are contributing to politicians who don't agree with your political philosophy, CASHTracker is the perfect tool. Whether you are liberal or conservative, CASHTracker allows you to see who owns whom.

CASHTracker is just public information formatted in such a way as to be easy to search.

Figure 4: Detail listing. Each entry in blue will pull up
details of that contributor or expenditure.

Why are there sometimes more than one result for the same individual?

Glad you asked.

Data for CASHTracker is taken from the Secretary of State's Office which is read from scanned reports filed by PACs and candidiates. Often times, the data is entered multiple times for the same real person or organization. This can result in slight spelling differences, errors in capitalization, etc. Since no single ID number is used to link up all of the different entries, we have to represent the data as multiple accounts. If you are searching for a candidate, start with the result that has the highest amount of contributions and/or is labeled as a candidate. Because of the way the original data is organized, you need to examine each entry for your candidate to get the whole picture.

What is the "CASH-O-METER" and how do I use it?

Figure 5: The famous

Good question.

The CASH-O-METER is just an instant visual representation of how the PAC contributions compare to individual contributions as a percent of total dollars. A CASH-O-METER exists for every listing where the number of contributions is greater than 0 and the total PAC Contributions (in dollars) are greater than 0. PAC Contributions are displayed in red. Individual contributions are displayed in green.

The best way to use the CASH-O-METER is to start with the CASHTracker Political Candidate listing. Then compare that listing to other accounts for that individual. Most of the time, there are multiple CASHTracker listings for each individual. Often times, these ancillary accounts contain only a very few contributions. In order to use CASHTracker successfully, you must look at the actual numbers for all of the individuals listings. Use the "Include in Rollup" checkbox, then click "Show Rolup" to combine all listings for a candidate or PAC into one detail page. See Figure 3.

What do all the abbreviations stand for?

CORP Corporation or Political Action Commitee
CAN Candidate
PI Private Individual

Figure 6: Entity Type Abbreviations.

TRVL Travel Expenses
CPAC Candidate & PAC Contribution
GIFT Donations & Gifts
EVENT Event Expense
FOOD Food & Refreshments
OP Operating Expense
INDEX Independent Expenditure
PRINT Brochures & Printing
MANG Management Services
ADVP Periodical Advertising
ADVO Advertising, Other (Signs, Buttons, etc.)
POST Postage
SRVY Surveys & Polls
TICK Tickets (Events)
UTIL Utilities
WAGE Wages, Salaries, Benefits & Bonuses
PETN Petition Circulators
ADVPP Advertising Preparation & Production
ADVB Broadcast Advertising

Figure 7: Transaction Type Abbreviations.

Figure 8: Summary Report Hyperlink.

What is the Summary Report feature?

By clicking on the Summary Report hyperlink (See Figure 8), you can display the Summary Report Dialog (See Figure 9).

Summary Reports are PDF files that can be emailed or conveniently printed out on any printer. Simply select what information you want to see in the report and click onthe "Print" button. The report will be generated on our server in a few seconds and be made available for download via a link that will apear in the Summary Report Dialog when the report is ready.

Summary reports can include only one listing (account number), or they can include multiple accounts by clicking the Include In Rollup check box. All accounts that have the Include In Rolup checkbox checked will be in the Summary Report.

The report may take a few seconds to generate, so be patient.

Figure 9: Summary Report Dialog.

Why is there address information for some listings and not for others with the same name?

Again, this is due to the fact that there is no single ID that uniquely identifies a person or an organization.

Do I need to login or create an account to use CASHTracker?

No. We do not collect any information about individual users. CASHTracker does not know who you are and we don't care who you are. We use Google Analytics to track web statistics like how many hits we get, etc. We also track hits to individual "detail pages" so that we know who are the politicians most under scrutiny.

Can I use CASHTracker to keep track of politicians outside of Idaho?

Not at the moment. Right now, CASHTracker is focused on Idaho, where PACs and special interest groups own the government in Boise.

How accurate is CASHTracker?

CASHTracker should be pretty accurate, but CASHTracker is not perfect. If we err, we attempt to err on the side of caution. We do our best to eliminate duplicate entries that would artificially inflate the scores for each listed party. When in doubt, we would rather delete an entry than include one that is either a duplicate or one that will otherwise be wrongly attributed. We give the benefit of the doubt to the listed party.

NO GUARANTEE is either expressed or implied as to the accuracy of the information here. You use CASHTracker at your own risk. If there is ever a question as to the accuracy of the information, you can go to the Secretary of State's office to verify the information yourself. If you have a question, you can post it on our Facebook Page and someone will respond as time allows.

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