About Campaign Finance Data
If you are trying to find out who is financing this year's campaigns, you'll have more luck tracking the money in federal contests than you will in state races. That's because California's state records are not available to the public in a computerized format. The reports are filed on paper with the Secretary of State and county elections offices, and usually you'd have to either visit those offices in person or request that copies be sent to you - which cost some time and money. However, for this November's election, CVF is providing "Late Contribution Watch", an online service that will track last-minute contributions made to California candidates and ballot measures. To subscribe to this service send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. (For more information on state campaign finance records, contact the Secretary of State's Political Reform Division at 916-653-6224. For local records, contact your county elections office).
The California Voter Foundation has been a leading proponent of electronic filing of political disclosure records, which would allow groups like ours to publish this data online and in a searchable database format immediately after the records are filed, as we did in San Francisco, where electronic filing has been required since 1993.
The good news is that if you would like to know where Presidential or congressional candidates are getting their contributions from, you can now quickly find out on the Internet. One of our favorite sites is FECinfo, which was set up by a former longtime employee of the Federal Elections Commission. The FEC is also making some campaign finance data available on the Web. The San Francisco database is now being maintained by SDR Technologies, a campaign software company in Los Angeles that is developing and implementing electronic filing programs across the country.
The California Voter Foundation will continue to push for electronic filing and Internet access to political disclosure records. Please feel free to sign up for our disclosure reform newsletter, and visit our Digital Sunlight web site to learn more about this important issue.
The California Online Voter Guide is
a project of the California Voter Foundation.