The public could have a much clearer picture of money in politics if a bill adding open data features to the state’s electronic campaign finance system is successful. The proposal was advanced Monday the Senate Rules Committee.
The bill (HB 105), would require candidates to go online to submit information about their fundraising and spending. It would also make it easier for the public to verify information in campaign finance reports by adding cross-referencing features to the state’s electronic campaign finance reporting system.
The measure has already passed the House and it now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. It is sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith, R-Tijeras and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque.
It would also give candidates the ability to correct or dispute information about contributions that is reported by lobbyists or other donors.
Adding open-data features would make the information more accessible to the public and others, Smith told the committee.
The change would make the information “slice-and-diceable” said Kari Fresquez, chief information officer of the Secretary of State’s Office.
Campaign finance data needs to be clean and correct, because “transparency is only as effective as the data we get,” said Heather Ferguson of Common Cause in supporting the bill.
Putting information online without making it thoroughly accessible to the public “creates a veil of transparency,” said Susan Boe, the executive director of the Foundation for Open Government.
Referring to a five-part series on the issue by KOB-TV, Fresquez said the change would make it easier to verify the information so that members of the media don’t have to go through hours and hours of digging through the reports.