After months of pressure from open government advocates, the California secretary of state's office has made a mountain of campaign finance data available online.
While the office had put data online, the information had been broken up into discrete filings. Anyone seeking to get all the information in a single digital forum had to request a CD-ROM.
Transparency watchdogs like Common Cause argued that system made it difficult to organize the voluminous amounts of campaign finance and lobbying data that flows through the office. Secretary of State Debra Bowen pushed back, arguing that the process of putting that amount of data online would be overly costly and time-consuming.
Now Bowen's office has reversed its stance, putting the raw data online. That will make it easier to plug information into sophisticated databases able to find trends.
"Following the money in politics and government is essential for making informed decisions at the ballot box," Bowen said in a press release.
Phillip Ung, a policy advocate for the California branch of Common Cause, called the change a "stark improvement. ...We're always happy whenever a public agency is willing to embrace the 21st century."
Jeremy B. White
Want quick access to the status of key legislation in the last weeks of session? Our new Capitol Alert Insider Edition app is available for download in iTunes for either your iPhone or iPad. You'll be prompted to pay $19.99 a month or $199 a year.
"It's not about gradualism. It's about getting the job done by all means necessary."
GOV. JERRY BROWN, speaking about equality at a rally Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech