DATA RELEASE: California Lawmakers Raise 79% of Funds From Outside Voter Districts

May 18, 2010 - California lawmakers raised 79 percent of campaign funds from outside their districts, according to a study released today by the nonpartisan research group MAPLight.org.

In other words, legislators raised almost four out of every five dollars in campaign funds from outside of where their constituents live.

MAPLight.org found that California legislators raised $97.9 million in campaign funds during the three-year time period studied, January 2007 to March 2010. Of this amount, $77.5 million (79 percent) came from out-of-district, while $11.9 (12 percent) came from in-district. The remaining $8.6 million, or nine percent, could not be definitively located as in-district or out of district.

More than half of the lawmakers, 58 percent, raised 80 percent or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts (68 out of 117 members). Nineteen lawmakers raised 90 percent or more of their funds from outside their districts. No lawmaker raised more than half of their funds from in-district, where their constituents live.

"Not a single legislator in California raised the majority of their campaign funds from in-district, where their voters live," said Daniel Newman, MAPLight.org executive director. "Instead of a voter democracy, we have a donor democracy."

You can find your legislator's top 10 zip codes here.

With out-of-district fundraising at a staggering 80 percent, the problem is not with a few bad apples, but with a rotten barrel. said Newman. This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for wealthy interest groups, but not for voters.

MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group that illuminates the connection between money and politics, located each contribution as in-district or out-of-district based on the street address of the contributor. The study used campaign contribution data from the National Institute for Money in State Politics.

To address interest-group influence on lawmakers, the California League of Women Voters has sponsored Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, which will be on the ballot June 8. Prop. 15 creates a pilot program for Secretary of State candidates to run for office without raising interest-group campaign funds. MAPLight.org is a supporter of Prop. 15.

The full MAPLight.org report on out-of-district and in-district contributions, and an interactive map, may be viewed at http://maplight.org/remotecontrol10.

Methodology

This study includes reported contributions from January 1, 2007 through March 17, 2010 to campaign committees for Assembly and state Senate, excluding contributions from political parties and candidates. The study examined contributions given to 79 Assembly members and 40 Senators: all legislators who were serving as of August 31, 2009.

We used campaign contribution data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics as of April 29, 2010, whose data is based on reports that candidates and contributors are required to file with the California Secretary of State. Azavea, a software firm specializing in mapping solutions, located each contribution in a district for MAPLight.org. For more details about how the data was compiled, see the Methodology section of the report: http://maplight.org/remotecontrol10.

To our knowledge, this study is the first ever to examine the geographic sources of campaign funds for California legislators using street-address level of detail to determine whether contributions originated from in-district or out-of-district.

About MAPLight.org

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Its mission is to illuminate the connection between Money and Politics (MAP) using our groundbreaking database of campaign contributions and legislative votes.

In May 2010 the group launched MAPLight.org California, a website tracking campaign contributions to all state legislators: http://maplight.org/california.

MAPLight.org combines data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics, GovTrack.us, the National Institute on Money in State Politics (NIMSP), the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission and other sources to better inform Americans and local and national media about the role of special-interest money in our political system. Hundreds of newspapers, TV stations, radio shows and online news sites have cited MAPLight.org's research, including CNN, the public radio show Marketplace, Harper's, The Washington Post, and Reuters.

MAPLight.org has received numerous awards including a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism; a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California Chapter and a Webby nomination for best Politics website. To learn more, visit: MAPLight.org If our work has been helpful to you, please consider supporting us.

Media Contact

Pamela Behrsin
Communications
Office: (510) 868-0894
pamela@maplight.org