“Democracy Facts:” From Law Professor Suggestion to Reality

Press release from San Francisco Ethics Commission via email:

 
BEFORE YOU VOTE, READ THE LABEL
ETHICS COMMISSION “NUTRITION LABEL” REVEALS TOP FIVE “INGREDIENTS” OF 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.
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