Monday, July 21, 2008

City to put campaign dislosures online

BY ERIC LINDBERG
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

The money trail in Santa Barbara city elections will be a bit easier to follow if city leaders approve a new online disclosure system tomorrow, an expected action that will also put into effect a series of campaign finance reforms approved last summer.

Those changes include tightening state campaign disclosure regulations, requiring independent organizations lobbying for candidates to disclose expenditures, and creating guidelines for disclaimers on campaign mailings and commercials.
The City Council split on whether to put those alterations into effect rather than waiting for the city to contract with an electronic filing system vendor, ultimately voting 4-3 last July to put the brakes on everything.
In late May of this year, however, the city contracted with Westcoast Online Information Systems, Inc., also known as NetFile, to post local campaign finance forms on the Internet for the public to view.
Residents would be able to view and print disclosure statements listing donations to those running for office, including names and amounts. Street addresses would be redacted online, although complete statements would remain available in the City Clerk’s office.
City officials said the new system costs $10,000 annually. Requests for photocopies are expected to decrease significantly.
With the new system set to go online as early as the end of this month, city leaders are expected to officially put the other campaign finance changes into effect as part of their administrative agenda tomorrow.
Although state law requires candidates to disclose donations in excess of $1,000 within 24 hours, the ordinance would lower that threshold to $500. Those running for office would also have to file a final statement on the Thursday before an election, while state law only necessitates filing 60 days before the election.
Candidates would have to file statements every two weeks, listing all donations larger than $100. Organizations or advocacy groups would also have to file disclosures for donations earmarked toward political issues.
However, nonprofit organizations or other groups using money from a general fund to take stances would not have to disclose their sources.
The ordinance also includes regulations outlining the “paid for by” disclaimers on campaign mailers, as well as television and radio spots.

1 comment:

JOLYON said...

Duh! Use a spell-checker, it's even more embarassing having the mistake in the title! Isn't this the second time I've written in a week? Do you guys need an editor?