January 24, 2012

Secretary of State launches searchable campaign disclosure database

Searching through campaign finance documents got a lot easier last Wednesday, following the launch of “Aurora”, the Secretary of State's new searchable database of campaign contributions and financial disclosure reports of public officers.

The site was built after passage of Assembly Bill 452 which mandated electronic filing of campaign reports starting January 1st, 2012. Previously, reports were filled out by hand and mailed to the Secretary of State's office where they were scanned and put online but were unsearchable and hard to locate.

The new system allows users to search by "individual" (i.e., candidate), "group", "contribution" — donor or recipient — and "expenditures" made by campaigns. In addition, you can have the results exported to Excel, CSV, or PDF.

One drawback is reports filed before January 1st of this year are still only available in the unsearchable PDFs of the previous system. They're easier to find than they were but still unsearchable.

Despite that, this new system is a vast improvement over the old system. And as more reports are filed electronically and more data is added to the system, “Aurora” will only improve.