Big and exciting news in the election law biz, combining two very important organizations collecting and analyzing campaign finance data:
The National Institute on Money in State Politics (National Institute) and the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) jointly announced today that they have reached an agreement that will strengthen our democracy’s infrastructure.
CFI will go out of business as a separate organization in early July and reemerge as a division within the National Institute.1 The National Institute will drop the word “State” from its name to become known as the “National Institute on Money in Politics” (NIMP). Edwin Bender will remain NIMP’s executive director. Michael J. Malbin, currently the executive director of CFI, will be director of the CFI division within NIMP.
“Years ago, we recognized CFI as a unique leader in producing high-quality analyses of our campaign-finance systems. They excel at using data to ground the reform debates in reality,” Bender said. “CFI’s Citizens Policy Analyst tool was visionary in how it lets everyday citizens see how small-dollar donor policies can shift the incentives to encourage more candidate-to-voter interactions. We’re excited and humbled that CFI is joining us as we work to increase transparency in our elections and public policy processes, and to build a strong data-focused foundation for the healthy evolution of our democracy.”
Malbin, who is also a professor of political science at the University at Albany (SUNY), added: “CFI has been collaborating with NIMP for years, starting with CFI’s groundbreaking research on small donors, which was often built up from NIMP’s data. During that time we both realized how much more we could do if we integrated our data, experience, knowledge, and skills. The synergies are obvious to those of us who have worked together. CFI’s becoming part of NIMP offers huge opportunities for advancing the field – well beyond anything we at CFI could have imagined if we continued trying to do it all on our own.”
NIMP has been promoting an accountable democracy for nearly two decades by compiling and standardizing comprehensive campaign-donor, lobbyist, and other information from all fifty states and the federal government. CFI has also been at work for nearly two decades, earning a reputation as the nation’s preeminent think tank on money in politics.
Nesting CFI within NIMP raises this collaboration to a new level. Each organization has done valuable work separately by using the differences among states to help understand the effects of federal, state, and local campaign laws. The expanded NIMP will have the resources and skills not only to continue, but to look at more jurisdictions and more programs more deeply. It will bring new data and new research to produce new insights. The results will continue to inform scholars and journalists. It will also guide agencies, lawmakers, activists, and others to develop more effective policies. Our democracy will be the better for it.
1 NOTE: CFI will maintain its separate website (www.cfinst.org) through 2018.