The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today adopted an ordinance requiring all candidates for a county office to file campaign finance disclosures electronically whenever contributions exceed $5,000.
“This makes the entire system more transparent,'' said Supervisor John Benoit, citing the need for information about political contributions to be made publicly available faster during an election cycle. “This is an important and appropriate step.''
Candidates currently have the option of filing campaign finance statements with the Registrar of Voters office via mail, fax or online.
Posting disclosures to the registrar's website is instantaneous, whereas sending information using more traditional methods can result in weeks-long delays, frustrating efforts to track the contributions that candidates are raking in ahead of election day, according to Benoit.
He originally proposed a $1,000 threshold for electronic filing, but decided that would create too much of a burden on “grassroots campaigners'' who may receive only a couple of thousand dollars in contributions.
The supervisor first brought the issue forward in June, saying his experiences in the Legislature taught him the value of e-filing campaign disclosures, thereby allowing greater -- and more timely -- public scrutiny.
Riverside resident Robert Mabe and Julie Waltz of Norco today both expressed concerns that e-filing would erase the “paper trail'' that government watchdogs rely on to identify irregularities. But County Counsel Pamela Walls said hard copies of campaign disclosures will continue to be available.
The ordinance applies to candidates for any county office. Candidates for municipal offices will not be required to comply, but could voluntarily file online.
Independent political advocacy committees and candidate-controlled committees that spend or receive $5,000 in an election cycle -- the three months leading up to election day -- will also be required to file online, within 24 hours of the contribution or expenditure.