John St. Croix
For release: October 8, 2014
BEFORE YOU VOTE, READ THE LABEL
SAN FRANCISCO ETHICS COMMISSION “NUTRITION LABEL” REVEALS TOP FIVE “INGREDIENTS” OF LOCAL BALLOT MEASURE CAMPAIGNS
Today, the San Francisco Ethics Commission published “Democracy Facts," an interactive on-line tool which discloses the money behind City ballot measures in a familiar nutrition label format. Democracy Facts is available on the Commission's web site at: www.sfethics.org/ethics/democracyfacts.html
The Democracy Facts concept was originally proposed by Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt in the wake of the Citizens United decision to help ensure that voters know who is paying for campaign advertisements in an era of unlimited independent expenditures. Using the tool, a voter can select a ballot measure campaign and the label will reveal its top contributors and breadth of financial support.
“This cutting-edge tool helps take the complexity out of campaign finance disclosure,” said Ethics Commission Chairperson Ben Hur. "The Democracy Facts label reveals whether a measure has the financial support of a significant segment of the community, or just a few individuals or organizations."
The Ethics Commission is publishing Democracy Facts as part of a series of interactive dashboards on sfethics.org, which visualize open data obtained from campaign finance and other reports filed with the Commission. Other dashboards include tools to visualize the financial activity in candidate and ballot measure races, lobbyist contributions, and the City’s public financing program.
The Ethics Commission, established in November 1993, serves the public, City employees and officials and candidates for public office through education and enforcement of ethics laws. Its duties include: filing and auditing of campaign finance disclosure statements, lobbyist and campaign consultant registration and regulation, administration of the public financing program, whistleblower program, conflict of interest reporting, investigations and enforcement, education and training, advice giving and statistical reporting.