Ordinance Increases Public Access to Information, Modernizes Government, Saves Tax Dollars
OAKLAND, CA – On Tuesday, March 5, the Oakland City Council will vote on 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.
The ordinance has been officially endorsed by the Oakland Public Ethics Commission and the League of Women Voters.
“This ordinance will improve public access to information, modernize local government, and increase efficiency, saving valuable taxpayer dollars,” said Councilmember Libby Schaaf. “Before they vote in an election, Oakland residents deserve to know who is funding the local campaigns,” she said, noting that currently when a committee files a paper version of a campaign finance document, that it takes a while for it to appear on the City’s website in PDF form.
Oakland City Attorney Barbara Parker, who co-authored the ordinance, agreed.
“Voters are entitled to know where candidates’ money comes from,” said Parker. “Our democracy works best when voters have access to this information in a transparent and timely way. This ordinance encourages candidates to file financing information on time so voters will be more informed, and I believe elections in Oakland will be better for it.”
“The new format will make political contributions easy to search and analyze for the first time. This ordinance provides the public with the unfettered access to information that they deserve,” said Schaaf. “It also frees up City staff from the task of filing these paper documents, so they can spend their valuable, taxpayer-funded time focused on other essential services.”
The ordinance will also make late fees mandatory for those committees who do not turn in their reports on time.
“The implementation of online filing systems will ensure that the public has access to campaign finance information in a timely manner,” said Oakland City Clerk LaTonda Simmons, who co-authored the ordinance. “The Clerk’s Office will be offering free trainings on using the on-line filing system and information about free, publicly accessible computers to ensure that this requirement doesn’t create any barriers to political participation,” she added.