Good Government Groups, Lobbyists, and Newspaper Publishers Come Together Urging Legislators to Modernize State Disclosure System

This week The California Forward Action Fund, California Common Cause, Institute of Governmental Advocates, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Sunlight Foundation, and the League of Women Voters of California sent a letter to Sacramento asking state government to prioritize the modernization of Cal-Access and to create a new conflict of interest database at the FPPC.

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"These systems are essential to ensure public confidence is not lost due to outmoded government technology," said Jim Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward.

Sacramento, CA (PRWEB) May 22, 2014

This week a broad coalition comprised of good government groups, lobbyists and newspaper publishers sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers asking them to prioritize the modernization of Cal-Access, the state's antiquated campaign finance and lobbying disclosure system, and to create a new conflict of interest database at the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).

Organizations signing the letter include: The California Forward Action Fund, California Common Cause, Institute of Governmental Advocates, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Sunlight Foundation, and the League of Women Voters of California.

The group's letter calls on state decision-makers to appropriate funds to the Secretary of State for the purpose of overhauling the campaign finance system described by Governor Brown as "outdated and cumbersome" and which "needs upgrading".

Cal-Access is widely considered to be antiquated and unable to meet the needs of today's Internet savvy voters and expensive campaigns. In addition to updating Cal-Access, the FPPC is seeking to develop an online system for conflict of interest forms. The vast majority of Form 700s are filed through paper form and filed away making access to ethics-related information expensive to maintain and difficult to access.

"These systems are essential to ensure public confidence is not lost due to outmoded government technology," said Jim Mayer, president and CEO of California Forward. "With a new Secretary of State set to be elected in November and a new FPPC chair appointed, this is a unique opportunity that policymakers should capture."

However, without an injection of funds and increased staffing, Cal-Access would not be modernized until the end of the decade and the Form 700 database may never be built.

"Laws compelling political finance disclosure have little impact if people can’t access the information. By putting adequate funding into modernizing Cal-Access, California demonstrates its genuine commitment to campaign finance and lobbying transparency,” said Emily Shaw, National Policy Manager, Sunlight Foundation. “Further, by funding the interoperability of campaign finance, lobbying, and asset disclosure data, California has the opportunity to become a national leader in political finance transparency. We look forward to being able to hold California up as a leading model of integrated political finance disclosure for public accountability.”

The request comes on the heels of a California Forward report titled: "Rebooting Campaign Finance Disclosure," which offers recommendations on how the state can upgrade Cal-Access and modernize the FPPC's conflict of interest system.

ABOUT CALIFORNIA FORWARD
California Forward is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization, devoted to improving the performance of government in California. It believes that increased emphasis on accountability and transparency will create government that Californians deserve and expect. California Forward strongly advocates for confidence and trust in elected officials as being an essential ingredient to good government.


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Attachments

Joint Letter on Cal-Access and FPPC Modernization