Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Councilmember Schaaf Contact: (510) 238-7004
Oakland City Council Unanimously Approves Ordinance Requiring Electronic Filing of Campaign Finance Reports
Ordinance Increases Public Access to Information, Modernizes Government, Saves Tax Dollars
(Oakland, CA)—Last night, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved an ordinance co-authored by Councilmember Libby Schaaf (District 4—Montclair/Dimond), City Attorney Barbara Parker, and City Clerk LaTonda Simmons requiring electronic filing of campaign finance reports for Oakland political candidates, PACs, and ballot measures.
“I want to thank my colleagues for approving this ordinance,” said Councilmember Libby Schaaf. “Now Oakland residents will have easier access to the information they deserve. It will be easy for the public to search for campaign donors and analyze this information for the first time, so they can get a full understanding of who is funding campaigns in Oakland.”
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, who co-authored the ordinance, said that its passage will result in a healthier democratic process in Oakland. “Voters deserve access to crucial campaign finance information in a transparent and timely fashion,” Parker said. “This ordinance will encourage candidates to file on time, so voters will be able to make more informed choices. I believe elections in Oakland will be better for it."
Prior to the passage of the ordinance, when a campaign committee filed a paper version of a campaign finance document, it could take days for it to get approved by City staff and ultimately appear on the City’s website for review by the public. Now, with the new electronic filing requirements, those reports will appear online immediately after filing. Contributions will be in a format that enables the public to easily search, compile, and analyze the information for the first time.
The ordinance also makes late fees mandatory for those committees who do not turn in their reports on time, and it empowers the Ethics Commission to fine violators who improperly report campaign funds up to three times the amount that was improperly reported (or $2,000, whichever is greater).
The ordinance also frees up City staff time so it can be spent on other needed services.
The Office of City Clerk LaTonda Simmons, who also co-authored the ordinance, will now provide free trainings to the public on how to use the online filing system as well as information about access to free public computers so that the new requirements don’t add any barriers to participation by the public.