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Higher lobbyist fees approved to fix campaign finance database

August 22, 2012 | 12:43 pm

Registration fees for lobbyists and political committees raised to fix database
Alarmed by repeated crashes by California's aging database containing campaign finance information, the state Senate on Wednesday voted to increase registration fees for lobbyists and political committees to repair and update the computer network.

The Cal-Access system lets the public look up who is giving money to political candidates and ballot measures as well as how much companies and other interests are spending on lobbying the Legislature on specific issues.

The database most recently was down for about two weeks in December, cutting the public off from information it can use to determine who is trying to influence politicians.

“It is simply unacceptable to have such an outdated public disclosure system in our state,” said Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), the author of SB 1001. "The crash of Cal-Access not only prevented public access, it meant government was not being transparent or being held accountable."

The measure, which was approved by the Senate and sent to the governor for consideration, would double the registration fee paid by 2,000 lobbyists to $100. It would also charge 7,800 political committees, including those formed by legislators, a new registration fee of $50. The fees will help raise about $590,000 annually to maintain and improve Cal-Access, Yee said.


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Photo: State Sen. LeLand Yee (D-San Francisco), right, won approval of a bill to raise fees on lobbyists and politicians to upgrade the state's aging database on campaign finances. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press