Review of Michigan Campaign Finance Search app (iPhone, iPad)

The SoM SoS SoB has just launched a relatively cool campaign finance app. The app is called “Michigan CFS” and it allows you to search by candidate and committee names. You can view direct cash contributions, expenditures, and debts.

I downloaded the app today to my iPad 2. It’s a free download and a quick install. You have to search for “Michigan CFS” or “Michigan” and then filter the results. “Michigan Campaign Finance Search” does not return any results at this time.

The app is pretty straightforward. Here are some screenshots:

I can’t tell you how accurate the data is. I checked the Bill Schuette contributions against Votesmart and the Michigan searchable database, and it was like comparing apples to orange bicycles.

From an everyday reference perspective, there is a real benefit to having this kind of info readily accessible in an app. The power here though is not in the ability to reference the info, but in the ability to share it socially. Like this:

With a little markup, you can point out anything that tickles your fancy. In this case, I grabbed a screenshot of Genetski’s contributions, Skitched the funding he received from the beer & wine peeps, then tweeted it. Took less than five minutes. How awesome is that?

And how awesome is it that I just gave you a screenshot of a screenshot that I tweeted? The things I do for you.

Ruth Johnson is trying to sell the app as an effort in transparency and accountability:

LANSING, Mich. – Continuing her efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to Michigan’s campaign finance, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced a free iPhone and iPad application that will allow voters convenient access to state campaign contribution information.

I like the app but let’s be clear; this does not increase transparency or accountability. It does increase convenience and accessibility because it adds to the methods available to access the information. But this information was already available, and it is better detailed in the state searchable database.

Auto-correct can mess with the names you try to search, so keep an eye out for that. The election periods reported are all “na” which is annoying, but there is a “through date” at the bottom of each summary. I don’t have many complaints about this app though. Overall it does what it is meant to do. Pretty cool.

The app is developed by NIC Technologies LLC. An Android app is in development.

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There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
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