Methodology

Sources

The Marcellus Money database was built using the Pennsylvania Department of State’s “full campaign finance export” file system. All contributions under $100 were ignored, as were all duplicate entries (a contribution of the same amount, on the same day, by the same contributor). Datasets include 2007 Cycle 1 through 2016 Cycle 3 (view the 2016 report filing deadlines and “Cycle” explanations). To learn more about FilerIDs listed in the datasheet, visit PA Department of State’s “Registered Committee List” and click “basic search” to enter a FilerID.

Lobbying information came from the Pennsylvania Lobbying Services database, which begins in 2007.

Standardization

Entries were stripped of capitalization, non-essential punctuation and additional information (such as street, avenue, etc) to facilitate matching and to overcome issues inherent in the performance of the Department of State’s third-party electronic input service. This service continues to be used so that some committees may still file by paper. In part because of this, the database is rife with misspellings, incorrect “filer IDs,” and missing entries.

Because of this standardization, the datasheet available for download contains both the “original” DoS entries as well as the “standardized” versions of these entries. In addition, some column entries were created new and not based on DoS data so as to standardize information such as recipient (since the same candidate may have multiple FilerIDs associated with their multiple committees). The first tab (“ReadMe”) in the datasheet explains the columns.

Identifying industry interests

Industry interests were identified using 1) the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Oil & Gas Reporting database, which names the entities that operate current and completed Marcellus shale wells in the state, 2) the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Pipeline Mapping System, which names the operators of natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania, and 3) extensive newspaper and business journal research about who holds Pennsylvania Marcellus shale acreage and the complex relationship inherent in industry joint ventures. Additionally, industry subsidiaries for publicly traded companies were identified using the SEC’s online EDGAR system to access 10-K: Exhibit 21.

The Marcellus Money database considers natural gas industry interests to be those that own or operate natural gas wells or exploration and production operations (upstream) and/or natural gas transmission pipelines in Pennsylvania (midstream). Entities that are purely distribution (downstream) are not included in this analysis. Additionally, the trade groups Marcellus Shale Coalition and Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association are included because of their stated interests and efforts.

Identifying industry employees

Efforts were made to include only contributions made by industry executives and other high-ranking employees. When this was unclear, we chose to not include contributions made by employees whose position could not be ascertained and whose contribution amounts were low.

Employees were identified using both their contributions to industry PACs (such as John A. Smith contributing every year, in the same amount, to the fictional ABC Natural Gas Company PAC) and their self-identified employer field. While this field is required, for the same individual it was often present in some contributions and missing in others. If it was clear that the person no longer worked for the industry or had not begun employment until a specific time, those contributions were not included. Personal addresses were used to match contributions made by the same person over time.