The new issue of SFR has a

on where Republican Congressional candidates

and

are pulling their financial support.

who try finding their campaign finance information on the New Mexico Secretary of State's new

will come up dry. That's because the candidates in US House and Senate races file reports with the same agency that tracks Presidential campaign money: the Federal Election Commission.

Unfortunately, while the

is full of historical and up-to-date information, it's not exactly easy to navigate. To make matters worse, many FEC pages don't identify second or third donations to a candidate from the same source, adding obstacles to the long slog toward reportorial accuracy.

That's why the Center for Responsive Politics' campaign finance site,

, is so handy.

The CRP folks give bird's-eye overviews of

—here's the page for

—and allow for highly refined

. They also analyze donations by

, making it much easier to see where politicians find their backing.

There's one problem with OpenSecrets: It takes the site some time to upload and organize the latest data for each race. So to report the campaign finance story for the 3rd District race, SFR relied on both OpenSecrets and the FEC website, which has the most current information.

What follows is a brief guide to the basic functions of the FEC's extensive databases.

Start by clicking on the "campaign finance reports" link at

:

You'll see a bunch of options. If you want to look at PDFs of the candidates' reports, use the "

" search. Our purposes will be served by the first option: "

." Assuming you know which candidate you want to click up, click on "

" and punch in his or her name. Here's what you'll see next, using Kokesh as an example:

The rest is fairly self-explanatory. Click through to contributions by individual and you'll get a hyperlinked table showing everyone who donated to Kokesh, their address, occupation and so forth.

Copying and pasting this info into a database program like Excel can produce cleaner, more usable results than the FEC's downloadable reports, which I'll steer you to now.

From that initial search options page, click on "view/download electronic filings." The options are a little overwhelming, but once again, knowing a candidate's name should be enough to get you what you want.

The results, for view or download as the name suggests, are organized chronologically.

Cross-posted at Muckraker's Guide.