PRESS RELEASE: MAPLight.org Los Angeles Launched -- Reveals the River of Money Flowing through Los Angeles Politics

With a Click of the Mouse Discover How Much Money Jack Weiss and Carmen Trutanich Received from the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate Industries—Down to Interest Group, Company and Name of Contributor

BERKELEY, CA, May 14, 2009 - MAPLight.org, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization that shows the connection between money and politics, announces the launch of MAPLight.org Los Angeles. This new public, web-accessible database provides citizens with key campaign finance data including industry, interest group, company and individual campaign contributions to Los Angeles elected officials. MAPLight.org Los Angeles includes over 18,000 contributions and individual expenditures totaling $10 million for the 2009 election cycle alone. Journalists, bloggers, researchers and citizens can now search and sort data easily online, download any or all of it for their own analysis, and share their results on their blog or on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. MAPLight.org Los Angeles shows what’s possible in the emerging movement of Web 2.0 government transparency.

MAPLight.org Los Angeles provides constituents with a unique government transparency tool to uncover detailed information about special-interest contributions given to Los Angeles elected officials. “Special interests would not be spending millions to fund politicians' election campaigns unless they wanted something in return,” said Daniel Newman, MAPLight.org’s executive director. “MAPLight.org Los Angeles shines a much-needed light on the river of money that flows through the second largest city’s government so citizens can make informed decisions at the polls, and hold elected officials accountable when in office.”

MAPLight_LosAngeles_HomePage

 

SPOTLIGHT: CITY ATTORNEY'S RACE Journalists, bloggers and citizens can drill down into the data to determine, for example, that leading up to the 2009 primary the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate industries gave 634 contributions to Jack Weiss's campaign for a grand total of $482,902:

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate Industry Contributions to Weiss

That number can be broken down even further to reveal that the Real Estate industry alone gave 423 contributions to Weiss totaling $324,013:

Real Estate Interest Group Contributions to Weiss

Break the numbers down two more levels and pinpoint precisely how much each Real Estate Developer gave to Weiss leading up to the primary:

Real Estate Developer Contributions to Weiss

Weiss's opponent, Carmen Trutanich, has received 125 contributions from the Finance, Insurance & Real Estate industries in the 2009 election cycle for a grand total of $75,875:

Finance, Insurance & Real Estate Industry Contributions to Trutanich

You can follow the same steps as above to find out how much developers are contributing to Trutanich's campaign. Or, if you want to search for a different industry, interest group, company or individual start here:

Industry, Interest Group, Company, Employee Contributions to Trutanich

"For someone to run for office in Los Angeles, you need to be either very wealthy, or aligned with donors who will invest in your campaign,” said Newman. “There are a lot of qualified people in Los Angeles with good ideas who just can’t compete in today’s money-dominating elections. We're electing the best fundraisers in Los Angeles—not necessarily the best leaders.”

Project Funding:

MAPLight.org Los Angeles was made possible by a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.

Methodology:

MAPLight.org's research team uses public campaign finance and independent expenditure data published by the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. MAPLight.org categorizes each contribution according to primary interest of the contributor, such as real estate developer or teachers union. Data collected includes all monetary and non-monetary contribution records (CA Form 460 Schedules A and C), dating back to the 2001 LA Municipal Election Cycle, which began in 2000, reported through the February 19, 2009. Data not collected or researched includes Schedule B (Loans) records from the CA Form 460. As of today contributions made during the 2009 run-off season are not included on the site. MAPLight.org's Los Angeles research team will continue to update and maintain the site and will continuously research contributions to determine the interest of the contributor. We will ultimately research every contribution for Municipal Elections from 2001 to the present. MAPLight.org is not affiliated with the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission. For full methodology and FAQ's like 'how accurate is your data?' visit: www.maplight.org/map/lax/faq.

Special thanks to the Center for Governmental Studies, our partner in this project, and MAPLight.org research interns Albina Popov, Tom Hirth and Felicia Berryessa-Erich.

About MAPLight.org:

MAPLight.org is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization based in Berkeley, California. Our mission is to illuminate the connection between Money and Politics (MAP) using our groundbreaking database of campaign contributions and legislative votes. We combine data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center for Responsive Politics, GovTrack.us, the National Institute on Money in State Politics, 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 our research, including CNN, the public radio show “Marketplace,” Harper’s magazine, The Washington Post, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal. MAPLight.org has received numerous awards including a Knight-Batten Award for Innovations in Journalism; a James Madison Freedom of Information Award 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.

Editors note: Interviews with Daniel Newman, site images/photos, and 15-min site tutorial available

Media Contact

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