There are two new reports from the National Institute on Money in State Politics that assess how well California does in regulating campaign spending and lobbying disclosures.
Here’s how they describe the two reports.
California state and local governments have instituted many effective disclosure policies when it comes to money in politics. But two new reports that look at the accessibility, completeness, and timeliness of providing that information to the general public find that California state and local governments have room for improvement.
In ”Best Practices for Local Campaign Finance Disclosure in California,” we looked at the rules and their actual implementation in five cities and two counties in California. Overall, it appears that local governments are doing well but can do more to expand transparency when it comes to money in politics.
In ”Improving Disclosure & Transparency: A Review of California’s Political Disclosure System,” we reviewed California’s political disclosure system for campaign finances and lobbying expenses. As with the local governments, we found that California has thorough political campaign disclosure laws. However, the systems that are used to share that information with the public can be enhanced, and the report identifies practices in other states that might help.
I found the section on lobbying disclosure laws, part of the second report, very interesting. It first reviews California’s laws regulating lobbying and requiring public disclosure of spending. In many respects, California’s definition of lobbying and what it requires to be made public is much better than Hawaii’s lobbyist law, but the report goes further by suggesting additional improvements. It would be great to see a bill drafted to bring Hawaii’s law up to the recommended California standard, and then see how Hawaii’s lawmakers would respond.
In any case, these are both excellent reports that suggest what a “state of the art” system for campaign and lobbying disclosures would look like.