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FEC, media can’t handle Obama jackpot

FEC, media can’t handle Obama jackpot

  
Barack Obama

A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Barack Obama filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.

Photo: AP

The record-shattering fundraising by Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton has reshaped the financing of presidential elections and generated breathless coverage and analysis of the otherwise arcane area of campaign finance.

Yet it’s had another consequence that has gone all but unnoticed. The campaign finance reports filed by Obama and Clinton have grown so massive that they’ve strained the capacity of the Federal Election Commission, good government groups, the media and even software applications to process and make sense of the data.

A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by popular basic spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel 2003 and Lotus 1-2-3.

Those programs can’t download data files with more than 65,536 rows or 256 columns.

Obama’s January fundraising report, detailing the $23 million he raised and $41 million he spent in the last three months of 2007, far exceeded 65,536 rows listing contributions, refunds, expenditures, debts, reimbursements and other details. It was the first report to confound basic database programs since 2001, when the Federal Election Commission began directly posting candidates’ fundraising reports online in an effort to make political money more accessible and transparent to voters.

By March, the reports filed by Clinton, a New York senator who attributes Obama’s victories in several states to her own lack of money, also could no longer be downloaded into spreadsheets using basic applications. Link to   complete Politico story>>

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