City of Houston campaign finance reports are due this afternoon and for the first time candidates will be required to file them electronically.
Users can search filings by several criteria, including candidate name, contributor name and expenditure payee.
But navigating the database requires some technical skill. Typing in a candidate's name does not immediately reveal his or her contributions and expenditures. Rather, it allows users to view an entire filing as either a searchable PDF file or as XML -- a common format in Web development and database programming that requires some skill to process.
If users search for an "original filing," however, the information can be downloaded in spreadsheet format. Also, searching for a particular contributor yields a grid showing specifics about each donation.