Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Public Data Ferret On KOMO 1000: Monitoring Campaign Contributions In Local Elections

by Matt Rosenberg September 16th, 2010

In our regular weekly radio segment today featuring the work of Countywide Community Forums’ Public Data Ferret initiative, on KOMO-AM 1000 Seattle’s “Nine To Noon” show with co-anchors Brian Calvert and Nancy Barrick, we talked about how to stay informed on who’s funding candidates in your local elections. Here’s the original Ferret write-up, and here’s the audio. The transcript follows.

Brian Calvert: “Ever wonder where all that money for candidates and issues comes from during election season? Matt Rosenberg of communityforums.org is on the line with us, and Matt, there are some tools provided by the Public Disclosure Commission to help us follow the money trail, aren’t there?”

Matt Rosenberg: “There sure are. Regular folks who want to follow the money in local elections can wade right in, thanks to our very excellent state Public Disclosure commission. We’ve got a tutorial on that at our Public Data Ferret site. It shows the easy steps to uncover campaign contributions. We use the city of Federal Way, and the mayor’s race there, which is fairly high-profile this fall, as sort of a test case. And we’ve got some donors, some pretty big name donors, that are making contributions. What’s really neat about the PDC site where you can track these campaign contributions, is that it’s very Net-savvy. You can view the results in pdf, Excel, (plus) a plain-type document that’s easy for linking, and bloggers. You can get an RSS feed with all the information on any candidates you like. And you can even share with a bookmark widget to 300 different social media and bookmarking sites.”

Nancy Barrick: “So, is the key thing with this site, it shows who’s donating, how much, and to whom?”

Matt Rosenberg: “Exactly. And the PDC slices it every which way. We’re focusing in this tutorial on local elections, but you can follow the state legislative races, and the initiative committees. And as you probably know, you always wonder, who’s behind this or that ballot measure? Who’s providing the $8 million or $4 million for this or that campaign? So, absolutely. It’s about letting the sunshine in. The idea is that sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

Brian Calvert: “And if you’d like a link to the Web site where you can find these tools and this information, please go to our Web site, komonews.com/radio, and click on “Nine To Noon.”

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