This request is a collaboration with journalist Urvashi Uberoy.

The Department of Transportation requires airlines to “submit monthly reports to the Department when the indebtedness for transportation furnished to a candidate, running for Federal office, or to persons acting on behalf of such candidate, exceeds $5,000 on the last day of a month during the 6 months before an election or nomination.” These reports are collected via DOT Form 183, which since mid-2010 are supposed to have been submitted electronically as CSVs or PDFs.

Our FOIA request 📄 seeks all such records submitted since July 16, 2010.

Although the Federal Election Commission publishes records on candidates’ debts to airlines (see, e.g., here), the Department of Transportation is the direct collector of the airlines’ version of these records. Access to those filings will allow the public to corroborate the FEC’s records and to identify potential incongruities.

The records requested also provide additional details on the credit extension not available via the FEC’s public records: “name of account; credit limit for account; the balance, if any, of the amount payable for transportation not paid for in advance; any unpaid balance of the charges for such transportation as of the last day of the month covered by the report, and the length of time that such balance has remained unpaid; a description of the type and value of any bond, collateral, or other security securing such unpaid balance.”

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