© 1996 KQED TV News
June 4, 1996

Electronic filing of Campaign $$ Reports

Transcript of Jason Beaubien's story on KQED (San Francisco's PBS affiliate) on June 4, 1996:


Last year San Francisco became the first City in the nation to require candidates for political office to file campaign disclosure statements electronically.

The campaign contribution and expenditure reports were then posted in a searchable database on the World Wide Web. Voters could view how much money each of the candidates had raised, who had donated the money, when it had arrived and calculate how much of a candidate's political bankroll came from outside the City.

Supporters of electronic filing say it would be easy to provide similar access to information about statewide races.

TAPE -- Right now most major campaigns are using software to record their contributions and expenditures.

Kim Alexander is the Executive Director of the California Voter Foundation. The Foundation set up the privately-financed campaign contribution database for San Francisco. Alexander says a statewide database would be easier to access and far more efficient than the current system which requires campaigns to file on paper.

TAPE -- What they do is they take those digital records, they print them out on paper and mail those pieces of paper to three different filing locations. They often get lost. In order for the public to view those records right now you have to physically go to the locations, request those files and then copy the documents you want to take away with you.

In a fiercely partisan fight in the State Assembly last week only two Republications voted to revive a bill sponsored by Jackie Speier that would have established a new electronic filing system.

Secretary of Sate bill Jones backed the now dead measure and says he'll continue to lobby for a computerized campaign disclosure system.

TAPE -- From a strictly a matter of efficiency and cost it would be easier to have people file electronically than it would be to have to deal with the almost half a million pieces of paper that we have to in a campaign year when all the campaigns are fully reporting contributions.

One other bill calling for disclosure of campaign finance data on the Internet is pending in the State Senate. The bill however hasn't received as much attention as Speier's proposal and Kim Alexander predicts the legislation will succumb to the same partisan bickering that doomed the earlier bill.

I'm Jason Beaubien KQED Radio News.

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