FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- June 25, 1997
CONTACT: David Poole, Virginia Public Access Project
VIRGINIA LEADS NATION IN ELECTRONIC DISCLOSURE
Non-Profit Puts Campaign Information on Internet
Richmond, Va -- All six candidates for statewide office have agreed to provide their campaign finance reports in computer format to the Virginia Public Access Project, vaulting Virginia to the leading edge of a national movement toward electronic disclosure.
"Virginia has come a long way in a hurry," said David M. Poole, director of the non-profit Virginia Public Access Project. "It's hard to believe that only last year a national survey ranked Virginia next-to-last in the public's ability to get information about the role of money in state politics."
The non-partisan Virginia Public Access Project is dedicated to providing greater access to campaign contribution reports through a database now available on the Internet. The Project created the database on behalf of a consortium of newspapers -- The Daily Press, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, The Roanoke Times, The Virginian-Pilot and The Washington Post.
The Project would not be possible without the cooperation of gubernatorial hopefuls Jim Gilmore and Don Beyer, who earlier this year began providing campaign finance reports electronically. Candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general followed suit.
"To my knowledge, no other state has had Virginia's success in getting candidates to file electronically," said Kim Alexander, who monitors state disclosure laws for the California Voter Foundation.
The results of the candidates' bipartisan commitment to public disclosure can be found at The Virginia Public Access Project's new web site.
The Project's Internet site is provided by the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based non-partisan group that monitors money in federal elections. The designer is Tony Raymond, creator of a ground-breaking site for Federal Elections Commission data.
The Virginia Public Access Project's free and searchable Internet site provides the public with an unprecedented glimpse into the way money is shaping the November races for statewide office, as well as local contests for the House of Delegates.
The Internet site demonstrates how easily new technology can boost public disclosure and sets a high standard for the State Board of Elections, which is developing a system to allow General Assembly candidates to file electronically beginning in 1999.
This fall, the Project will ask each candidate running for the 100-seat House of Delegates to follow the example set by Beyer and Gilmore. The Project will post the names of candidates who take this extra step toward public disclosure on its Internet site.
"Electronic disclosure is easy -- all of us should do it," said Del. John "Butch" Davies, a Culpeper Democrat who is chairing a two-year study on state election laws.
"This web site brings new meaning to disclosure," said Del. John Watkins, a Chesterfield Republican. "Disclosure -- that's what makes the system work."