Both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia maintain FTP sites that contain campaign finance information from previously filed campaign finance reports.
The Commonwealth FTP site, located at FTP://ftp.state.pa.us/pub/state/camp_fin, maintains files going back to around 1999 for state elections. The city FTP site, located at FTP://ftp.phila-records.com, maintains information going back to the last cycle of 2006 (cycle 7) for city elections.
The content of these records are the five files that are required to be filed when filing a campaign finance report digitally. These files are:
The content of these files makes up the content of the standard Pennsylvania Campaign Finance Report, Form DSEB-502.
I have purchased enough server space with an SQL Server web installation to handle all of this data (approximately 12,000,000 records so far) and I download the updates on a regular basis. The Commonwealth is not as good as the City about updating their FTP site for the public, so occasionally, I need to file a Right To Know request for the most recent cycle, and pay $7.00 for the data on a disk. I then pull this data into one of two SQL Server back-end databases, and use Microsoft Access 2000 (yes, I’m an old head) as a front end to run queries against the data to examine the finances of candidates and committees at both the City and the Commonwealth level.