Friday, October 30, 1998

Contact: Kim Alexander (916) 325-2120

Big money behind political ads exposed at
CVF urges voters to „hit mute, log on and get informedš

Want to know who‚s paying for all the TV ads filling California‚s airwaves these days? Looking for reliable voter information? This election, it‚s easier than ever before. „Just hit mute, log on to and get informed,š advises Kim Alexander, President of the California Voter Foundation and editor of the non-profit organization‚s California Online Voter Guide.

CVF‚s voter guide is ad-free, easy to access, easy to use, and features 300 pages of nonpartisan information about California‚s propositions and statewide, congressional, and legislative races. The guide also helps voters „follow the moneyš and find out who‚s funding initiative campaigns and statewide candidates. „Our web site offers beleaguered voters an alternative to manipulative ads and half-truths. It‚s fast, it‚s fun, it‚s easy, it‚s free, and it‚s available 24 hours a day,š Alexander said.

Highlights of the guide include:

ū Top Ten Contributors to all California propositions, including big-money measures such as Props. 5, 9 and 10 (currently updated through October 17; scheduled to be updated two more times before Election Day);

ū Top Ten Contributors to candidates in statewide races for the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Controller, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Insurance Commissioner;

ū A searchable database of campaign contributions received by all statewide campaigns, being updated daily;

ū Links to 200 California campaign web sites;

ū The top three priorities of every candidate for statewide office;

ū Brief, easy-to-read summaries of all state propositions;

ū Links to other great voter resources on the Internet, such as 5-minute video interviews with statewide candidates, debate transcripts, independent analysis, local voting information, and the latest election news.

CVF has produced the voter guide, now in its 5th edition, since 1994. For the first time in history, the guide offers comprehensive, up-to-the-minute campaign contributions on the Internet. The online contributions are made possible thanks to a new law requiring statewide campaigns to disclose their campaign finance reports on both computer disk and paper, as well as requiring immediate Internet disclosure of large, last-minute contributions received in the final two weeks of the election.

The 1998 California Campaign Contributions Database features all contributions received by statewide candidates and ballot measure committees since July 1, 1998, and is being built and maintained by Compaq Network Systems Lab in Palo Alto, in partnership with CVF. „No longer must voters plow through piles of paper to follow the money,š said David Jefferson, CVF‚s board chairman and one of two Compaq research engineers working on the database. „Now the public has access to campaign contribution data when it‚s needed most -- before Election Day,š he added. Compaq has donated its high-speed server, staff time, and technical expertise to the database project.

Thousands of voters have already visited, and many have sent notes of thanks and support for the service. „This site is exactly what democracy needs, and exactly what the Internet is best at -- empowering people to hold truly informed opinions,š wrote one voter from San Diego. „It is each of our responsibility to be informed voters- your site is helping ensure that I am in that category,š wrote a San Francisco voter. An El Dorado Hills voter wrote, „This was so much better than sifting through the ads. For the first time, I know the issues and I'm actually looking forward to voting!š

Alexander considers the wealth of voter resources on the Internet nothing short of revolutionary. „Five years ago, none of this information was available, anywhere. Today, voters have reliable information right at their fingertips, and can finally make truly informed decisions on Election Day.š

The California Voter Foundation is a Sacramento-based, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to applying new technologies to provide the public with access to the information needed to participate in public life in a meaningful way. CVF‚s work is supported by grants from the Gerbode Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Columbia Foundation, Pew Center for Civic Journalism, the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Piper Fund. CVF will soon launch a new membership program to help fund the organization‚s work and ensure that resources such as the California Online Voter Guide will be available to the public for many years to come.

For further information, contact:

Kim Alexander, President, California Voter Foundation: (916) 325-2120

David Jefferson, Compaq Network Systems Lab & CVF Board Chairman: (650) 688-1341

(note: weekend inquires will be answered promptly)