Thursday is the deadline for officials and candidates across California to file their campaign disclosures, Form 460s, for the second half of 2012.
The forms give activists, journalists and others a sense of who is contributing to local campaigns and the connections between election donations and government decisions.
For example, over the next few days, Theresa Sears, an environmental activist in Orange, will be going through the 460s in her city to see who financed City Council campaigns this last election.
Sears said the filings are “really important, because they’re sort of the blueprint for where the money all comes from. It’s a big deal. You can connect all the dots with the 460s, and it’s always good to understand who’s funding certain campaigns.”
Under state law, political campaigns and committees that raise more than $1,000 are required to list all contributors who donate at least $100 within a calendar year.
But Sears said a major downside is that for many local campaigns, particularly city council races, the disclosures are not required to be posted on the Internet. That forces activists to go to city halls to review disclosures.
“They really need to be online, so there should be a central location where everybody can go online and get them,” said Sears. “It's just good government, the people’s right to know.”
The Orange County registrar of voters posts campaign disclosures for county offices on its website, and some cities such as Anaheim, Fullerton and Costa Mesa post their 460s online.
But others such as Irvine, Garden Grove and Rancho Santa Margarita don’t.
Neil Kelley, who as registrar of voters is the county’s top elections official, explained that his office doesn’t post city disclosures because they’re not under his jurisdiction.
“It would be like the Sheriff’s Department handling something for Fullerton police,” said Kelley.
Cities could be forced to post their 460s by public pressure or a change in state law, or they could just post the disclosures out of the kindness of their municipal hearts.
If you want to check the Form 460s for officials in your area, explore these links:
Yorba Linda (Enter "public" as username and "user" for password, and under “Document Category” select “Campaign Statements.”