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Calif. lobbying directory online

A searchable directory lists names, photographs and contact information for California's professional lobbyists, their firms, and clients.

California politics are coming out of the dark ages.

The statewide digital sunlight movement, designed to expose fat-cat contributors and policy-shaping powerhouses through the Net, moved forward today with California's Lobbying Directory.

The directory is part of an effort by Secretary of State Bill Jones, who also announced a voluntary electronic filing system last month that will be online in time for the 1998 gubernatorial election.

"Using Internet technology and the future electronic filing of campaign reports, we will finally be able to show you the people behind the money," Jones said in a statement.

The searchable directory lists names, photographs, and contact information for California's more than 1,000 professional lobbyists, their firms, and each firm's lists of clients.

However, public disclosure reports filed by firms are not yet online. The reports list the amount of money lobbyists received during a legislative session, measures they pushed, and state administrative agencies that were lobbied.

Jones's voluntary electronic filing system will be up and running before a handful of bills to require mandatory filing on the Net are voted on by the legislature.

One popular proposal was introduced by the chair of the Elections Committee, Sen. Betty Karnette (D-Long Beach). It would require candidates and ballot measure committees to report their campaign finances on the Net by June 1, 2000, if their total contributions or expenditures exceed $100,000 in primary elections and $50,000 in general elections. Rep. Jim Cunneen (R-Cupertino) sponsored the companion bill in the House. Both bills are in committee.

The private sector is also trying to clean up politics using the Net.

Mother Jones has put a White House flights database online; it is searchable by passenger, date, or miles traveled. It shows that some "big spenders" have flown aboard Air Force One. Also on the Net is the magazine's annual list of the 400 largest political contributors in America.