San Bernardino Seal

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 12/03/13, 8:11 PM PST |

SAN BERNARDINO >> An effort to increase transparency by requiring candidates to list campaign contributions online — which hit a stumbling block when it was proposed just before the recent election — was approved unanimously Monday night.

City Clerk Gigi Hanna first brought up the proposal two meetings ago, one day before the Nov. 5 election, but City Council members said they were concerned that filing online would be too difficult and potentially error-prone, and suggested allowing either paper filing or electronic filing — which, in effect, would continue the status quo.

Hanna argued Monday night that directly filing online would allow residents to more quickly see how much various groups and individuals were giving to candidates because city staff would no longer need to type in that information and risk errors in the process. The system also catches errors that candidates sometimes make in adding up contributions.

“Ultimately, what this amounts to is causing a short-term inconvenience to the 42 political campaigns that currently are active in the City of San Bernardino for the long-term benefit of increased transparency for the 200,000 residents of the city, more effective use of staff resources within the City Clerk’s Office, and greater accuracy in reporting for committees,” Hanna says in a written report. “With the public’s continued calls for greater transparency in political campaigns, and the need to run San Bernardino City Hall offices with greater efficiency at a time of tight budgets, mandated web-based campaign disclosure makes sense, and cents.”

The 42 campaigns Hanna referred to include current elected officials, candidates for office, and political action committees that support local candidates, all of which are required by state law to disclose anyone who gives or receives $100 or more in money or services for a political campaign. While some campaigns already file that information online, it will now be required from all candidates.

Councilman Robert Jenkins said Monday that he was all for transparency, but he also wanted as much citizen participation as possible and worried the requirement would scare away potential candidates uncomfortable with computers and unable to afford a treasurer.

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