New, free tool charts campaign contributions and independent expenditure reporting in real time.
Dollar, Dollar, Bill is a new web tool designed to intuitively summarize campaign finances in California’s state races. The new tool plots contributions to candidates and expenditures by outside groups in an easy-to-understand way. Dollar, Dollar, Bill also tweets out campaign finance data live, as it is reported to the California Secretary of State.
The system will provide anybody a good understanding of campaign finance in races they follow. But it should prove especially valuable to reporters, consultants, and campaign staffers working particular races. Dollar, Dollar, Bill’s tweets are sortable by hashtag, providing campaigns, consultants, and reporters instant access to new information in the races they cover. Charts from the Dollar, Dollar, Bill website are also free to download and republish.
Political observers now have a simple, easy way to answer questions like:
- What is Governor Brown and his allies’ cash advantage in the Prop. 30 contest?
- Who’s raising more money in a fiercely competitive race like Assembly District 8 or Senate District 5?
- How much money are independent groups spending in Assembly District 46?
- Who are the top contributors in the Prop. 32 contest?
It’s no secret that California’s official website for campaign finance data is antiquated and difficult to use.
This past May, a Calbuzz article that argued, “With a small staff of researchers, reporters, and technology people, the [Fair Political Practices Commission] could keep California voters and media alike informed about the inflow and outflow of campaign and political money – becoming a key information source for people interested in state politics and public policy.”
Ryan Hughes is a Democrat working in state politics. When volunteering on campaigns, Hughes often finds himself poring through piles of campaign finance data.
“There should be a better way of reporting campaign finance data,” Hughes thought to himself as he read the Calbuzz article. “But there’s no reason it should take that many people. I could probably design that system myself.”
And so he did, through hours of coding, testing, and auditing.
Dollar, Dollar, Bill scans the Secretary of State’s website every 20 minutes for new campaign contributions and expenditures by groups unconnected with the candidates. Dollar, Dollar, Bill then updates its charts and tweets out new data through its Twitter handle, @CADollarDollar.
Though a Democrat, Hughes is quick to point out that his system has no ideological slant. “There is no partisan angle to Dollar, Dollar, Bill. This project is completely objective and without commentary. It’s designed to give everyone an intuitive look at how much money is being raised and spent in our elections.”