Research

The Republican National Convention is an inherently political event. It’s the super party of the so-called Grand Old Party. Despite the politics and the politicians, the committee to bring the RNC to
Tampa is a 501c3. In other words, it’s a tax-exempt nonprofit. This status allows the organization, the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee, to plan political activities and to funnel money to events for the
Republican party under the guise of a charitable organization.

Alongside the 501c3 is the republican party’s Committee on Arrangements (COA). These two groups combine to bring the RNC to Tampa. The beauty of the wedding of these two lies in
the documentation. 501c3s are required to list their board of directors, addresses for the board (usually work addresses),
signatures and salaries of many employees. In addition, they are required to file public statements with the IRS. 990S, the annual 501c3 statement, includes such information as: names, contractors,
expenses, addresses, property owned, etc.

The COA is a committee of nominating parties, in this case, the Republican National Committee. The COA is funded through both donations and through the box on income taxes that says “donate money
to campaign election funds.” Despite the desires of many for public financing of presidential campaigns, the current model of partial public financing ensures that public money goes to support the private conventions of political parties.

The COA is required to file quarterly statements outlining their expenses, loans received, contractors, employees and individuals (and addresses) receiving payouts. Unfortunately, the COA cheats and only posts PO boxes or company addresses of individuals receiving money. Public documents, albeit helpful, can only take the aspiring researcher so far. To take the information to the next level, one must look at other sources. The compilation of other sources such as news articles, blogs and comments, and through sifting through these sources can one find the real dirt.

It is the intent of this page to outline tools and tricks for obtaining personal information through legal and public sources.
Much like the COA filings through the Federal Election Commission (FEC), all campaign contributions must be declared and documented. This documentation can be viewed in the form of images of the
declaration forms on http://www.fec.gov. Donations to Political Action Committees (PACs) can also be viewed here.

Also remember, there are federal election commissions and local election commissions, sometimes referred to as Boards of Elections. If your person hasn’t made a federal donation, perhaps they are
active on the local level. Google search your local election governing body and check out their
database.

Perhaps this goes without saying, but social media sites can be your best friend. Take a stroll around facebook, linkedin, twitter, tumblr, etc. If you can’t find anything using your account, create a new one and friend them. Most people of interest have been in the news at least once. A cursory google name search can reveal
interesting pieces of a person’s life. Perhaps they ran 5Ks and were listed in the results page? Perhaps golf tournaments are their thing. Maybe they are in the local PTA, boy scouts or rotary or country club. Perhaps they commented on an issue in city council. A news search can reveal all this and more. Plus, a news search can reveal their true identity. What is John Smith’s middle initial? Who is John’s spouse? A google search for ‘John Smith Tampa wife’ can provide valuable information further down the line.
When you feel as if you are getting closer to a complete name, plug the name into whitepages.com. Don’t get complacent with this site. Whitepages only tells you that someone with that name or similar
at some point in time lived at an address. It is important to go back and cross check that address with other sites. This is where the FEC comes in handy.

Moving forward with a complete name, spouse name, perhaps names of children, a researcher now must check government databases. The beauty of the so-called American Dream is that everyone wants
to become a homeowner. With home ownership comes the glory of public appraisals and property sales records. These are public databases. In some most awesome counties (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, etc.) you can search by NAME! In many, most, counties you can only search by address. To find these databases plug into a google search ‘(name of county and state) + property assessment database’. If a jurisdiction requires a user name and password, check out http://www.bugmenot.com for publicly usable logins.

It is wise never to publish an address without first double checking it. Some jurisdictions provide tax incentives to primary residences. This information can often be found on the property assessment database and/or the property sales database. The departments of consumer and regulatory affairs is another fun database. Rich people sometimes form Limited Liability Corporations LLCs to keep money in different accounts. LLCs most be registered with the jurisdiction, usually on the state level. LLCs are often registered to the person’s
home address. In some places this department has different names. Plug it into a google search with the name of the state and/or county and see what you come up with.

Boat registration is another fun tool. Many counties and states have public records of boat (yacht) registration and docking.
Courts, albeit the eternal enemy of activist, can also be your best friend. Criminal cases and civil suits are public information. Every time someone is locked up and papers are filed, there is a publicly
viewable record of that event. Along with information about the court case comes very private information including name, birthday, address and in some places, social security number. Some
jurisdictions allow you to view this information on-line, while others require you to come in person. Some places even allow you to view it on-line, but provide more information in person.
Civil cases are also interesting. You can see who their enemies are. You can see potential liens on one’s home or placed on others. You can also see outcomes, their attorneys (relevant if they use the
same attorney each time), judges and background information on the case. Parking and traffic tickets can also be viewed on the internet in many jurisdictions. If you somehow know the license plate of their car (check google streetview), you can often plug that into the parking ticket databases.

Which brings us to the next point. Once you feel confident that you’ve found your person. Fire up google streetview and plug the address into it. Look fot identifying features (i.e. you learn your person is an avid kayaker and there is a kayak in the driveway), cars, house name.

If you are stumped, and occasionally this happens, you can always try your luck at Freedom of Information Act requests (FOIA). Check out groups that specialize in FOIAs for more information on this. Remember, FOIAs reveal your identity, so choose this step wisely. All of this information for this website was done without direct use of a FOIA.

It is illegal to stalk your person. In many places this is defined as repeated visits with the intent to coerce or commit violence against. Please be advised that we are providing this information for
informational and completely legal purposes. If you choose to break the law, that’s on you. That being said, if you happen to be in the neighborhood getting coffee, walking your dog or maybe
playing a nice game of chess, it’s not illegal to walk by their pad one time.

The Tampa Bay 2012 Host Committee, Inc. is a registered Florida non-profit 501c3. As previously mentioned, the c3 allows the organization to collect virtually unlimited tax exempt donations so long as they do not promote a candidate or political party. To circumvent this rule, the host committee writes they promote Tampa Bay. Their articles of agreement specifically state “Bringing he Republican National Convention and/or the Democratic National Convention to the city of Tampa, Tampa Bay area, and the state of Florida, and to assist in the planning, coordinating and implementing of the marketing of the city of Tampa and the Tampa Bay area for the Republican National Convention and/or
the Democratic National Convention for the year 2012…”

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