Californians soon will have another way to keep an eye on their elected leaders. Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Tues., Oct. 8 authorizing the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to build an electronic database where hundreds of thousands of public officials will file their financial disclosure reports.
Elected officials at all levels of government, from local council members to the governor himself, are required by law to file annual reports revealing details of their personal finances. Included in the filings is information on investments and gifts that they receive. Intended as a tool to hold politicians accountable for potential conflicts of interest, these reports are open to the public, but they currently aren't easy to get.
Most reports are filed via hard copy forms housed at any number of government buildings throughout the state. Once the new database is established, financial disclosure information will be available to the public on a single website.
"This landmark bill will revolutionize the ability to hold public officials accountable across the state," FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel told the Los Angeles Times.
Gov. Brown also signed a piece of legislation granting the FPPC additional authority to enforce current conflict-of-interest laws, according to the Times.