Spy On Your Neighbors: Local political contributions

Want to see how much cash Mayor Antonio has raised in Florida for his election? Curious about how many employees at a particular development company have donated for a suddenly eminent domain happy city councilman? You have questions, the LA Ethics Commission has answers…

Huffington Post’s Fund Race, which allows anyone to see which Presidential candidates your neighbors are contributing to, isn’t much of a secret (or unique – many other sites allow similar searches). But if you want to get more local, and see who’s contributing to Los Angeles mayoral and City Council seats, check out the Campaign Finance database at the website for L.A.’s Ethics Commission.

By clicking on “2009 Municipal and LAUSD Election Totals” you can see find out how much money each candidate gearing up for election day March 3rd, 2009 has raised and from whom, and how much they’ve spent and where.

“Search Contributions” allows you to find out who donated by name, employer, city or state, and other criteria.

For example, you can see that for the next year’s mayor’s race, with $113,734 candidate Walter Moore comes in only second to incumbent Antonio Villaraigosa’s $1,640,068. And you can also see that while Moore has spent almost every dime that he’s taken in so far (largely on radio ads), Mayor V has a healthy war chest remaining.

David Zahniser, who introduced me to this site at an SPJ-LA workshop on Saturday, used it to uncover an unusually high number of $1000 donations from a Miami, FL based company for Mayor Villaraigosa’s 2005 runoff campaign. When he called the donors to find out their interest in the mayor, many were unaware that they’d ever given money to the campaign.

The site is updated with financial filing deadline. The next one, due October 10th, should prove interesting for local political junkies. It will show that Walter Moore has raised over $150,000 qualifying him for matching funds, and may also reveal which New Yorkers donated to City Council President Eric Garcetti reelection campaign at a Big Apple event held for him Saturday night… although the $291,484 previously reported infinitely more than his single opponent, self defense trainer Keith Hardine, who tells me that he hasn’t raised a penny for his campaign.

For better or worse, the online version of these filings keep out residential addresses, while the actual paper docs available on Spring Street will reveal the info. On the other hand, HuffPo’s FundRace and it’s ilk, which follow Federal guidelines, do provide address information.


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