Word on the street (where by “the street” I mean an email from Golan Levin), is that the Center for Responsive Politics has made available piles and piles of data:
The following data sets, along with a user guide, resource tables and other documentation, are now available in CSV format (comma-separated values, for easy importing) through OpenSecrets.org’s Action Center at http://www.opensecrets.org/action/data.php:
CAMPAIGN FINANCE: 195 million records dating to the 1989-1990 election cycle, tracking campaign fundraising and spending by candidates for federal office, as well as political parties and political action committees. CRP’s researchers add value to Federal Election Commission data by cleaning up and categorizing contribution records. This allows for easier totaling by industry and company or organization, to measure special-interest influence.
LOBBYING: 3.5 million records on federal lobbyists, their clients, their fees and the issues they reported working on, dating to 1998. Industry codes have been applied to this data, as well.
PERSONAL FINANCES: Reports from members of Congress and the executive branch that detail their personal assets, liabilities and transactions in 2004 through 2007. The reports covering 2008 will become available to the public in June, and the data will be available for download once CRP has keyed those reports.
527 ORGANIZATIONS: Electronically filed financial records beginning in the 2004 election cycle for the shadowy issue-advocacy groups known as 527s, which can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, labor unions and individuals.
The best thing here is that they’ve already tidied and scrubbed the data for you, just like Mom used to. The personal finance information alone has already led to startling revelations.