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Follow The Money: Campaign Disclosures

This year is expected to be a record-breaker in political spending across San Diego. In a new series, Ryann Grochowski, a data journalist with our partner Investigative Newsource, is taking through the ins and outs of local campaign finance.

Aired 4/19/12 on KPBS News.

This is the time of year that voters start finding their mailboxes stuffed with campaign mailers, and their phones start ringing with campaign polls and robocalls. Campaign committees do have to abide with specific regulations when it comes to telling voters exactly who’s behind those fliers and phone calls.

This is the time of year that voters start finding their mailboxes stuffed with campaign mailers, and their phones start ringing with campaign polls and robocalls. Campaign committees do have to abide with specific regulations when it comes to telling voters exactly who’s behind those fliers and phone calls.

Q: How can voters find out who’s paid for a campaign filer or door hanger?

A: According to local law, any campaign literature, be it door hangers, news ads, mailers or posters, must say “Paid for by,” followed by the name of the candidate or committee that paid for the materials. It also must disclose the address and city of the committee and candidate, all in 12-point type. That’s different from state law, which only requires 6-point type.

Q: Are there any exceptions?

A: Yes, if fewer than two hundred of the campaign materials are created, there’s no requirement for a disclosure line.

Q: What about telephone calls from campaigns?

A: If a candidate’s committee calls more than 500 voters, the message must say “paid for” or “on behalf of” the candidate. The committee must also keep a copy of the phone message’s transcript, along with a tally of phone calls made, for four years.

Q: If there’s no disclosure on a mailer, is there a place that takes complaints from voters?

A: Local campaign finance law is governed by the San Diego Ethics Commission, and I would contact them if you have questions about campaign literature you’ve received. Their website is http://www.sandiego.gov/ethics/.

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