California, MapLight team up for new campaign-finance search tool

California, MapLight team up for new campaign-finance search tool

California State Secretary Alex Padilla announced a campaign-finance search tool that provides easy insight into state-level independent expenditures.

Users can track the source, recipient and amount of expenditures from 2001 to the present with the search tool developed by MapLight, a non-profit research company that compiles data on campaign contributions and spending.  The information on state-level independent expenditures is an upgrade to the state’s current open source campaign-finance search engine, PowerSearch also developed by MapLight.

Independent expenditures -- money invested in political communications such as radio and TV advertisements advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or ballot initiative -- are a huge part of California politics.  Such expenditures, which typically are made by super PACs, unions or wealthy individuals, have sometimes eclipsed the spending by parties and candidates themselves.

Pamela Behrsin of MapLight told GCN that the public-private partnership is a bargain for taxpayers. “It’s foundation-funded, so it will come at little to no cost to the state,” she said.

Padilla said he believes the new web tool helps citizens and press alike.

"Working in a public-private partnership with MapLight is allowing us to greatly improve the speed and accuracy of our campaign data searches,” Padilla said in announcing the launch. “Adding this latest online search tool provides the public and the press easy access to important campaign information."

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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