Groups and campaigns can capitalize on a new search tool to scan donor and expenditure data from the federal to the local level across all 50 states.
The search platform Ante is an offshoot of Vigilant, the California-based research firm founded by veteran Democratic consultant Mike Phillips. Despite its roots, the tool is open to anyone willing to pay the $99-$299-a-month subscriber fee (there’s also a free and custom tier). “Anyone can use the platform however they want to use it,” said Phillips. “They [just] need to make sure they comply with the use of data.”
Some donor data, including FEC filings, cannot be mined for commercial purposes. But that wasn’t what Phillips envisioned for the site. “There’s so much that’s happening at the local level, state level, and federal level—so having a good degree of transparency into that is a really valuable resource that we’re able to offer.”
Transparency tools are increasingly popular in the industry. Eric Wilson, the GOP digital consultant behind the site LearnTestOptimize.com, recently launched Best Practice Digital, a subscriber service to help campaigns on the right audit their digital programs.
“It’s a new model in terms of delivering campaigns strategy and advice that I don’t think has been tried before,” Wilson recently told C&E. “I don’t want to be in the position of advising clients to buy more of the thing that I sell. I want my strategy to stand on its own.”
Like Wilson’s new site, Ante also publishes a blog whose content highlights the layers of data available through the platform. It’s designed to make the platform as accessible and widely subscribed to as possible, according to Phillips.
“My background is in Democratic politics, but this is public data that I think is a valuable resource for accountability and ultimately we’re not going to police who has access to it,” he said. “This gives you really granular transparency into where folks are making contributions — where are the employees of X, Y, Z giving? The alternative to this is basically going to all 50 states and running manual searches.”
The data sets are updated daily and give users the ability to research contributors by region, amount, date, and the candidates or committees they donate.
Phillips said the product launch was timed to get on campaigns and groups’ radar early in the cycle before budgets get allocated — and on the flip side before most trackable campaign dollars start to get spent. “Campaigns are ramping up, there’s a lot of activity — 2020 is going to break a whole bunch of records,” he said. “A tool like this could be an important resource.”