Good news. The Contra Costa County’s election division unveiled today an online repository of campaign finance reports at www.cocovote.us.
Download PDFs of campaign finance reports for committees along with candidates for county, special district and school districts. It does not include city races, whose candidates and committee file with the local city clerks and not the county. (Some cities post their reports, other do not.)
Why has this taken so long? In an absurd rule, election clerks cannot under the law publish the addresses of elected officials on the Internet. Clerks can hand out a gazillion copies of the report to anyone who asks for them but they can’t put up on the Internet unless they redact this prohibited information.
Clever software companies have come up with redaction software, which Contra Costa County is now using.
This has been among my major pet peeves with local government, this idea that publicly available documents could only be obtained on paper.
But keep in mind, these are still just PDFs, scanned text based documents. It is not searchable by individual donation. For a searchable database of local campaign finance reports, go to the Contra Costa Times’ site, http://www.contracostatimes.com/campaign-finance.
How did we convert the PDFs into a spreadsheet-style electronic format? We used inexpensive conversion software that turned the data into a format readable by Excel, Access or other database style programs.