Report: California Needs to Improve Transparency Regarding Money in Politics

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California state and local governments have instituted many effective disclosure policies when it comes to money in politics. But two new reports that look at the accessibility, completeness, and timeliness of providing that information to the general public find that California state and local governments have room for improvement.

In ”Best Practices for Disclosure of Local Candidate’s Campaign Finance Data in California,” the National Institute on Money in State Politics took a look at the rules and their actual implementation in five cities and two counties in California.

Overall, it appears that local governments are doing well but can do more to expand transparency when it comes to money in politics.

In ”Improving Disclosure & Transparency: A Review of California’s Political Disclosure System,” the Institute reviewed California’s political  disclosure system for campaign finances and lobbying expenses. As with the local governments, the Institute found that California has thorough political campaign disclosure laws.

However, the systems used to share that information with the public can be enhanced, and the report identifies practices in other states that might help.

Both reports are supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. The opinions expressed in the reports are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The James Irvine Foundation.

Read ”Best Practices for Disclosure of Local Candidate’s Campaign Finance Data in California” here.

You can find the link to “Improving Disclosure & Transparency: A Review of California’s Political Disclosure System” here.

Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause, made the following statement in regard to the report:

The Institute’s new report highlights reforms needed to bring greater transparency and accountability to California’s political system.

The Secretary of State’s Cal-Access database, which provides public access to information about campaign finance and lobbying, should be upgraded to automatically link and aggregate all contributions by major donors.

Sec. Alex Padilla has taken significant steps in recent months to enhance Cal-Access. However, we all agree that further work is needed to provide the public with easy and meaningful access to information about our democracy.

The Legislature should provide Sec. Padilla with the direction and resources necessary to bring Cal-Access into the 21st Century.

We support legislative action to modernize California’s campaign finance disclosure law and technology.

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