Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
April 25, 2013

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has rebuffed a request from advocacy and news organizations to allow direct, daily Internet access to her office’s campaign finance database, citing legal hurdles that would make it prohibitively expensive.

Data on the flow of political money is readily available on the secretary of state’s website, but it is broken up into discrete forms for different transactions. There is no comprehensive document or file online that includes all the information — the full database is available only on a CD-ROM that costs $5.

Several organizations pushing for more transparency in politics, including MapLight and California Common Cause, sent Bowen a letter asking that Bowen’s office upload a single copy of the database online every day. The Sacramento Bee, the Los Angeles Times and the California Newspaper Publishers Association also signed the letter, as did Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco.

Bowen responded with a letter saying the request was not feasible. California law prohibits her office from making certain information, like addresses and bank account numbers, available online, and Bowen’s letter argues that redacting all the necessary data for a daily posting would be too costly and time-consuming.

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