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L.A. County requires electronic filings of campaign finance reports

L.A. County moves to give the public quicker access to campaign finance reports
Until now, L.A. County required paper reporting of political campaign finances
L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky: "This is something that should have been done a long time ago"

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to require candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically, allowing the public to see them quicker.

The supervisors voted 4 to 0 with Gloria Molina absent to adopt the rule, which county officials said would be in place by July 31, the first filing deadline for the November runoff election.

An increasing number of California cities and counties require candidates to file electronic reports showing who has given money to their campaign, but electronic filing has remained optional in Los Angeles County until now. In many cases, county election employees must first enter the information by hand from lengthy paper reports before it can be posted in a searchable online system.

And even candidates who file electronically must also file a paper copy. Workers in the county registrar-recorder's office check the online version against the official paper record, which creates delays in posting.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky proposed modernizing the system after a Times report cited long delays in campaign finance information being posted online. Many of the candidates running for sheriff, assessor and two open supervisor seats had complained about the lack of readily available information.

"This is something that should have been done a long time ago," Yaroslavsky said Tuesday. "I think it will serve everyone well. It will ensure transparency and timely transparency."

The requirement will apply to campaigns for county seats or ballot measures that raise or spend at least $10,000. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan said the threshold was the same as the one set by the city of Los Angeles, and it should ensure that small campaigns are not unduly burdened by the requirement.

Candidates exceeding that threshold typically hire professional treasurers who, in many cases, already have experience with electronic filings.

"We believe — and our experience has been — that campaigns that are at that level of spending and contributions are dealing with an infrastructure in their campaign that can and does deal with this type of electronic filing," Logan said.

Logan said workers in his office will notify all current candidates of the new requirement and offer technical support if needed.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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