Local Volunteers Build OpenDisclosure.io Website to Show Political Campaign Contributions

Date Posted: October 18th, 2016 @ 12:00 AM
Last Updated: April 4th, 2019 @ 12:31 AM


Local Volunteers Build OpenDisclosure.io Website to Show Political Campaign Contributions

Website uses data from the City of Oakland’s public records to create simple graphs showing the source of campaign funding.

October 18, 2016 – Members of local civic technology group, OpenOakland, partnered with the Oakland Public Ethics Commission to create a new nonpartisan tool to show how money is raised and spent in local elections. The new website, Open Disclosure (www.opendisclosure.io), pulls data from the City’s campaign funding database to produce simple graphs so voters can see the source and spending of campaign funds raised by candidate and ballot measure committees. The site debuted with a presentation before the Oakland Public Ethics Commission (PEC) on October 3.

“The goal of the tool is to illuminate campaign finance data for Oakland voters in a format that is easy to access and understand,” said Whitney Barazoto, Executive Director of the Oakland PEC, “The City collects a wealth of information about campaign finance activities in Oakland, but the data is buried in thousands of pages of PDF documents or in a massive spreadsheet format. This tool consolidates the data into one easy-to-access online site.”

The group released a simpler version of Open Disclosure for the 2014 Oakland mayoral race and wanted to expand the application to all Oakland races and ballot measures for 2016. The new website shows data on candidates running for Oakland City Council, Oakland City Attorney, Oakland Unified School District Board Member, as well as ballot measures. Users can see the extent to which campaign funding comes from within Oakland, inside California, or from out-of-state donors, and a list of those donors. The expanded site works on mobile devices, aiming to reach more diverse audiences such as young adults and low-income households as they may be more likely to use the internet primarily through their phones.

“It’s important for those of us in civic technology to think about everyone in the
community when we develop online tools and applications,” said Tarik Bennett,
Volunteer Director for OpenOakland. “Open Disclosure is a great resource. They’ve put in the work to ensure that voters with old mobile devices can research ballot measures just as easily as journalists.”

Open Disclosure is a project of California Civic Lab, a statewide group of volunteer civic hackers passionate about open data, transparency and shining light on the funding that fuels California’s electoral campaigns. California Civic Lab is based in Oakland and currently working with Code for America brigades and volunteers across California, including Code for San Francisco and Code for San Diego, to create a statewide campaign finance resource for other local jurisdictions.

“We built the site so it can scale easily in other cities” said Tom Dooner, a longtime volunteer who helped to develop Open Disclosure, “Any city that uses the same software as the City of Oakland should be able to add their data and share this resource with their community.”

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The Public Ethics Commission oversees compliance with Oakland campaign finance, lobbying, transparency, and government ethics laws.

OpenOakland is a 501(c)(3) pending organization supporting open, agile, and engaged government. We work with community members and technologists to help our city innovate and to create partnerships that allow residents to create tools that help make government more accessible and transparent.

See the Press Release