Great news for advocates of government sunshine: The California Fair Political Practices Commission is now posting elected officials’ statement of economic interests, called Form 700s, online.
Until now, most Form 700s forms were available only over the counter. Initially, the FPPC will provide the forms for state constitutional officials, state legislators and county board of supervisors. It will eventually post all Form 700s.
Here are the details from the FPPC:
The Fair Political Practices Commission, the state’s campaign finance watchdog, today began posting on its website the Statement of Economic Interests (SEI or Form 700) of California’s elected officials. Initially, the SEIs of Constitutional officers, Insurance Commissioner, legislators and County Supervisors will be available, with the ultimate goal of including all elected officials within the state that file their SEI with the Commission.
“This is an ongoing effort of the Commission to assure that public information is actually available to the entire public,” said FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson. “It does no good for someone in San Diego to have to come to Sacramento to get a Form 700 of their legislative representative.”
Statements of Economic Interests are an important means for the official that files them, the media, and the public to help gauge where potential conflicts of interest may exist. The state mandated forms include information about the sources of an official’s income, investments, business positions, real property holdings and gifts. Merely reporting an economic interest is not a conflict in itself; a conflict arises when an official governmental decision, made by the official, impacts their economic interests.
One of the key themes of the Political Reform Act of 1974, is that documents such as SEIs and campaign statements are filed at the most decentralized level. This made sense at a time when it was easier to walk down to the City Clerk’s office, but with the Internet, there is greater access to these documents if they are maintained on a single website.
Due to privacy concerns and out of an abundance of caution, the SEIs posted on the Commission’s website will have the address, telephone and signature blocks redacted. The forms may be viewed at www.fppc.ca.gov.