CAL-ACCESS in action
Read the Los Angeles Times analysis that couldn’t have happened without our open-source tools
Michael Finnegan and I dug deep into Gov. Jerry Brown’s fundraising effort for a story in today’s Los Angeles Times.
What we found is that in his drive for a fourth and final term as California governor, Brown has transformed from one of the leading critics of money in politics to the master of a machine that routinely draws on six-figure checks from lobbyists and corporations.
The state’s website offers some good options for exploring the money from outside interests that floods the statehouse in Sacramento, but if you want to conduct a sophisticated analysis it is no substitute for the raw data.
Using our tools, we were able to rapidly develop a custom application on top of CCDC’s open source foundation that:
- Discovered that nearly 20% of Brown’s campaign contributions have come in large blocks of money from the state Democratic Party, blurring the original source of more than $4.7 million funding his campaign.
- Documented that no other gubernatorial candidate of either party has had so much money passed on from a party since the CAL-ACCESS database came online.
- Identified a series of special interests that act as “double donors,” contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars more to the Democratic Party after giving the legal limit of $54,400 directly to Brown’s campaign fund.
Our story attempted to put all that into context and tell the story how Jerry Brown has, to use a term now en vogue in our politics, evolved.
In the process we contributed dozens of incremental improvements to the underlying open-source code base that we hope others can take advantage of in the future.
There’s still a long march ahead of us before our tools make this kind of work easy, but we hope that today’s story represents a first step.