Spanish Party Financing Scandals - CrowdSourcing Data Extraction with CrowdCrafting

Spanish society has been bombarded recently with a flurry of news stories about possible cases of corruption in the major political parties like the Partido Socialista Obrero Español and the Partido Popular.

In January of 2013 the party that rules the country, Partido Popular (PP), was featured in the front page of the newspaper El País with a new case about a possible financial scandal in the party. The new disclosed several scanned copies of the accounting book of the party – with donations from companies to members of the party – allegedly hand written by the official treasurer of PP: Luis Bárcenas, as well as several accounts in Swiss banks.

Screenshot of the application

Since then, many news and press conferences have happened, however the recent 28 of June decision had a very interesting twist. The judge ordered Luis Bárcenas to be sent to prison after the financial anticorruption district attorney requested this.

After this action, the Spanish mass media started to ask questions about this imprisonment, and the consequences that could have to party that rules the country.

This last Sunday 7 of July, one of the main newspapers from Spain published an interview with the suspect: Luis Bárcenas. The interesting side is that up to now, Bárcenas denied all the accusations, however as he is now in jail he has started to admit that the donations were made from Spanish development companies and other enterprises, that the money was delivered in some cases in plastic bags, and that usually those companies obtained contracts with the with the administrations governed by the party.

The next day, the public face of the party, María Dolores de Cospedal, gave a press conference about these accusations saying that everything is completely false.

A few minutes after the press conference was over, the Anonymous hackers group disclosed the last 20 year of accounting info from the politic party in and distributed the links on Twitter, newspapers, etc.

Screenshot courtesy of

The links were spread like fire and people started to coordinate themselves under the hashtag #cuentasdelpp to analyze the data. They found that most of the documents are PDF scans from hand written notes, some reports from different fiscal accounting softwares, etc. so they asked for help. As the data format is not machine readable, someone suggested to use to do the transcription taking as inspiration the sample PDF transcription app. A few hours later the application was up and running:

Screenshot of the application

This is a great example about how citizens can coordinate themselves to analyze a problem from their society using open tools like CrowdCrafting and PyBossa. Unfortunately due to legal threats regarding the leaked data, the author has, as of today, felt obliged to take the app down (we hope temporarily). I have contacted the author, and, as soon as we know if the owner can re-open it, we will be letting you know!