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Following The Money In Campaigns Made Easier Online

Audio

Aired 10/11/10

Increasingly large sums of money are flowing into local election campaigns in San Diego. Fortunately, voters who want to “follow the money” can do it more easily than ever before.

Increasingly, large sums of money are flowing into local election campaigns in San Diego. Fortunately, voters who want to "follow the money" can do it more easily than ever before.

Not so long ago, $100,000 was a hefty chunk of money for a candidate to raise for county or city office. But some candidates for seats on the county board and the city council have already raised more than $300,000 in their battle for elected office.

Until now voters interested in county-wide races had to go in person to the County Registrar’s office and search through files to find out who was sponsoring campaigns. This month County Registrar Deborah Seiler launched a campaign disclosure web site.

"It was something that we were a little behind in doing, certainly," Seiler said. "But we thought it was important because it’s part of the County’s desire to have transparency in government. It’s an easier way to obtain this information rather than having to come to our office in Kearny Mesa."

The City of San Diego has posted campaign disclosure statements on the city clerk’s website for over four years, but this year the city’s Ethics Commission is taking the transparency a step further.

Commission Director Stacey Fulhorst says "independent expenditures" from interest groups like the Building Industry Association or Labor Unions don’t have to be reported in candidate disclosures.

"To exclude information about independent expenditure activity could be excluding some of the most important information about where the money is coming from," Fulhorst explained.

The City’s Ethics Commission now has a "one-stop shop" online where you don’t have to delve through reams of documents to uncover the money trail. You can see at a glance exactly who is putting how much into each city race.

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