About the Campaign Disclosure Project

    Project Description
    Project Partners
    Advisory Board
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Project Description

The Campaign Disclosure Project is designed to bring greater transparency and accountability to the role of money in state and federal campaigns. For thirty years the states have experimented with campaign disclosure, creating fifty sets of laws, regulations and procedures to monitor and control the transfer of political money. Disclosure under these systems is more timely than ever; but campaign data are rarely provided in formats that allow for an understanding of broad national trends, or for following the transfer of political money among states and between state and federal campaigns. If voters are to take advantage of Madison's "popular information," timeliness must be combined with uniformity.

The Campaign Disclosure Project brings together the UCLA School of Law, the Center for Governmental Studies and the California Voter Foundation in a collaborative effort to achieve three goals:

1. Classify and evaluate the campaign disclosure laws of the 50 states.
2. Design and promote a set of uniform standards and model laws for state reporting and disclosure practices, based upon the findings of the evaluation above.
3. Encourage the adoption of these standards by grading the states according to their disclosure laws and practices and by promoting the findings through publications, conferences and websites.

The Project will achieve its goals in several steps, in which each of the project partners will take a leading role.

The UCLA School of Law will conduct the basic research into state disclosure laws. This will include developing a taxonomy of the disclosure laws, regulations and forms of each state, evaluating their content and implications, and making these available in a relational database for researchers and scholars. In addition, UCLA School of Law will recruit campaign finance scholars to prepare a set of related working papers to help inform the project. The purpose of these papers will be to assist the advisory board in their deliberations, leading to recommendations for the Uniform State Disclosure Standards.

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), working closely with the Advisory Board, will develop and draft recommended Standards for collecting and reporting state campaign finance contributions and expenditures. CGS will also draft these standards into a Model Law for consideration by state and local jurisdictions. CGS will promote the Standards and Model Law in several ways, including: the presentation of findings at conferences of policy makers and academics; traditional media outreach efforts (including opinion pieces, placement of broadcast and print stories and articles in leading magazines and other publications); and the recruitment of key opinion leaders to endorse the recommended Standards.

The California Voter Foundation (CVF) will assess, evaluate and grade the 50 states on their campaign finance disclosure laws, electronic filing and online disclosure practices. CVF will work with UCLA School of Law, CGS and the Advisory Board to develop criteria that will be used to "grade" states' performance over two years. The criteria and grades will be employed to promote the need for uniform disclosure standards, and to provide a baseline for measuring progress towards better disclosure and adoption of the Uniform State Disclosure Standards.

All three project partners will be involved in publicizing and disseminating the findings of the Campaign Disclosure Project. This will include recruiting campaign finance scholars to write and present papers based on research in the field, the latest developments in state disclosure projects, and legal and constitutional analyses of the recommended Standards. The findings will be released at press conferences in Washington, DC, and presented at conferences attended by secretaries of state, state election administrators, scholars and journalists. The purpose of these events will be to discuss the grades and grading methodology, to share lessons learned on best practices in reporting and disclosure, and, if invited, to provide technical assistance to states interested in adopting the recommended Standards.

The Project will consult with a bipartisan Advisory Board composed of leading scholars, practitioners, journalists, elected officials and other experts representing a broad spectrum of views on campaign disclosure. The Advisory Board will advise the project partners on the goals and progress of their research, review research already completed, and deliberate on issues of filing, disclosure and public access to campaign finance information. The Advisory Board will meet three times. The first meeting will be in September 2002 in San Francisco. The second meeting is scheduled for March 2003, and the third for Winter 2004.

Project Partners

California Voter Foundation

Kim Alexander is president and founder of the California Voter Foundation (CVF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to advancing the responsible use of technology in the democratic process.  She has been a leader in numerous fields, including online voter education, Internet access to campaign finance data and public verification of computer voting systems.  In 2004, Alexander received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award for her work spearheading and nurturing the popular movement for integrity and transparency in modern elections. kimalex@calvoter.org 

Will Barrett is the California Voter Foundation's Program Manager, responsible for Grading State Disclosure, a nationwide assessment of the 50 states' campaign finance disclosure laws and practices. Prior to joining CVF, Will coordinated the HIV Health Services Planning Council for Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer Counties. He has also worked independently since 2003 as a campaign finance researcher.  Will is a graduate of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. will@calvoter.org

Center for Governmental Studies

Tracy Westen is Vice-Chairman and CEO of CGS, which he founded in 1983. He has authored, co-authored or edited over 60 CGS reports and publications and helped create important CGS projects, including PolicyArchive, Democracy Network, Video Voter, ConnectLA, California Channel, California Citizens Budget Commission, California Citizens Commission on Higher Education, California Commission on Campaign Financing and National Resource Center on State and Local Campaign Finance Reform.

Westen is also Adjunct Professor (communications law and policy) at the USC Annenberg School of Communication (since 1983) and Chairman of the Municipal Access Policy Board for Los Angeles Channel 35. He was Deputy Director for Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, Director of the Communications Law Program at UCLA School of Law and Legal Assistant to Commissioner Nicholas Johnson at the FCC. He has received national "public service" awards from both Common Cause and the National League of Women Voters for his work on campaign finance reform and online voter information systems. twesten@cgs.org

Bob Stern was named CGS President in 2000. He has served as General Counsel of CGS since its founding in 1983. He has co-authored a number of CGS reports in the areas of campaign finance reform, the initiative process, and electronic filing of disclosure statements. Before joining CGS, he was General Counsel of the California Fair Political Practices Commission for nine years. He has authored a number of statewide initiatives enacted by California voters, including the Political Reform Act of 1974. stern@cgs.org

Jessica Levinson is the Political Reform Director for CGS. Her work focuses on analyzing and implementing solutions to campaign finance laws. Prior to joining CGS, she practiced civil litigation at Russ August & Kabat, PC and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP. Before entering private practice she clerked in the Central District of California for the Honorable James V. Selna. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School, where she graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif, and her B.A. in English and Economics from Loyola Marymount University, where she graduated magna cum laude and as the class valedictorian. jlevinson@cgs.org  

Molly Milligan is the Campaign Disclosure Project Manager for CGS.  She brings a legal background with her to CGS as well as four years of experience as a professional staff member for the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.  She has served as a panel attorney for the California Appellate Project and was for many years a volunteer in the Child Advocates Office of Superior Court.  She received her law degree from Loyola Law School and her B.A. from Colby College with honors in Government. mmilligan@cgs.org


Joseph Doherty, Ph.D is the Director of the Empirical Research Group at the UCLA School of Law. He holds a doctorate in political science from UCLA, and his research includes studies of bankruptcy, public opinion, administrative law and political consulting.  He has conducted public opinion research for ballot initiatives and for candidates in congressional and state-level political campaigns. doherty@mail.law.ucla.edu 

Daniel H. Lowenstein is Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, where he teaches election law and co-edits the Election Law Journal. He is a nationally renowned expert in election law and has a leading textbook and many journal articles on the topic. In the early 1970s he and Robert Stern wrote the landmark California Political Reform Act.  He is the projected Director of the proposed UCLA Center for the Liberal Arts and Free Institutions.  lowenste@mail.law.ucla.edu

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This page was first published on September 18, 2002 | Last updated on September 10, 2008
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