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County revises redaction practices for online campaign finance reports

 

In response to several emails from the Almanac, the San Mateo County Elections Office says it will stop redacting some information from online campaign finance reports, which contain information on those contributing to a political campaign.

Under state law, certain contact information – the contributor's street name and building number – must be redacted from online reports, although that information is available in paper copies of the reports.

However, in online finance reports on Measure K, the county's half-cent sales tax extension, the county redacted additional information: the contributor's contact information, such as phone number and email address, and the town or city where the contributor is based.

Elections official Jim Irizarry said the county will stop redacting that information, and will follow the law to redact only street numbers, street names and bank account numbers from the online reports.

"In this age of the internet and all of the breaches of security we are experiencing as individuals and organizations, it has been the practice of this department to use an abundance of caution to protect the privacy and security of the individual while striking a balance with the public’s right to know," Mr. Irizarry said in an email.

See the reports for yourself

You can find campaign finance reports online, but it's tricky.

Go to the San Mateo County portal for reading campaign finance reports. Note the Advanced Search button on the upper right.

The search function lacks an intuitive interface. Entering "Measure K" in the "Search By Name" field, for example, yields information for opponents of Measure K – "Committee to Stop Measure K, Why Now?" – but nothing on the measure's proponents.

One way to see reports on proponents' activities: Enter the letter "K" and click your way to the last of the five pages of entries. Near the bottom, under Committees, you'll see "Yes on K, Neighbors for Affordability and Quality of Life with Major Funding by Seton Medical Center and MidPen Housing Corp."

Alternatively, a search for the word "Affordability" brings the link up immediately, but you'd have to first know that this word is part of the contributor's name.

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