California to post raw campaign filings online daily
Published: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.
SACRAMENTO — California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has agreed to expand the way her office presents campaign finance data online after initially rejecting the request from a coalition of good-government groups, research organizations and newspapers, her spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The Secretary of State's Office will make California's entire campaign finance and lobbying database, known as Cal-Access, available for download on one spreadsheet daily by Labor Day. Currently, the secretary of state's office creates CD-ROMs upon request and sends them by mail for $5, or the public has to search online by each candidate, group or committee.
The groups that asked for the change to the state's website applauded Bowen's decision and say it will help the public keep track of who is funding the campaigns of elected officials.
"It's a tremendous victory for transparency for Californians," said Dan Newman, president of MapLight, a Berkeley-based organization that examines the influence of money in politics. "It's going to make it radically easier for Californians to keep track of who is funding their elected officials and hold them accountable."
Newman said the change brings California more in line with the Federal Election Commission, which already makes raw data available for download online. The change will enable groups to build off the data for functions they need, he said.
Last month, Bowen sent a letter denying a request from MapLight, California Common Cause and newspapers that included the Los Angeles Times and The Sacramento Bee to make raw campaign finance and lobbying data available on its website for download on one file each day. She had expressed concern about privacy laws and suggested the change was not cost-effective.
After meeting with the groups, Bowen determined that she would be able to meet their request, after all, said her spokeswoman, Shannan Velayas.
"Californians have been able to track campaign and lobbying dollars online 24 hours a day for years using the Secretary of State's Cal-Access database," Bowen said in a statement. "Once the raw format of the data is also available daily through our website, anyone with the technological expertise can write their own tracking program."
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.