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Campaign Beat

I, Investigative Reporter

Take a Look at the Gift Horses

By Staff | Posted 8/14/2002

Aug. 13 was the deadline for state candidates to file their latest campaign-finance reports with the Board of Elections. Internet users can immediately start crunching those numbers on the elections board's on-line query system. Now, curious citizens everywhere can learn who pays whom in the body politic. Here's how it's done:

Go to www.elections.state.md.us and click on the Campaign Finance hyperlink in the left-hand column. Once the page comes up, click on Access to Campaign Finance Data. From here you have three search options: contributions, expenditures, and summary information. Each one will prompt you to fill in a search statement. The contributions search engine, for instance, provides the following: "Show all contributions of any amount made by any contributor to any recipient on any date from any location." The italicized clauses can be tweaked, using hyperlinked forms, to ask different questions of the database.

The answers turn up detailed records of, for example, all donations of $500 or more by Orioles owner Peter Angelos to all state candidates, or all contributions entering Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's account from Massachusetts. Similar inquiries can be constructed for the search engines dealing with expenditures, while the summary-information search engine produces one-page snapshots of a campaign's total financial picture. Go wild!

City Paper will run tips on how to use the Internet to inform yourself about the candidates periodically throughout the campaign season.

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