Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

June 17, 2010

Host: Ted Simons

Candidate Funding Web site

  • The Arizona Secretary of State has updated its Web site to make it easier to track candidate spending and funding sources. Secretary of State Ken Bennett will demonstrate the Web site.
  • Ken Bennett - Secretary of State
Category: Vote 2010   |   Keywords: campaign finance, Secretary of State,

View Transcript
Ted Simons:
Finding out how much candidates are spending and where they're getting their money just got a little easier with the secretary of state office launching a newly redesigned campaign finance website. It allows for side by side candidate comparisons, and provides a way to track what corporations and unions spend to help elect or defeat a candidate. Here with more is Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. Why is this revamping of the campaign finance site necessary?

Ken Bennett:
Well, I think it's important to provide more transparency and disclosure to the citizens. Typically in the past, if you wanted to find out who was spending how much or who was contributing how much, or giving money from whom, you could only go in and look at one committee at a time. And you'd have to print all of that report out and set them aside and go in and look for another committee, maybe in that same race, and you had to go one committee at a time and print things out and lay them all out. And our staff was able to revamp the whole thing so that you could go in and see all of the candidates for the statewide races, or all of the candidates for legislative races in one list, and then you can begin to sort and line them up and divide them up into different races or whatever it is and see everything on one screen at the same time.

Ted Simons:
When you say you can go ahead and look that up, you mean you, everyone.

Ken Bennett:
Everybody who gets on the website at AZSOS.GOV. Go into elections, there's a campaign finance reporting button, and you going in and it just immediately comes up with all the candidates in the statewide races, and you can begin to look and define even in particular which races you're interested in.

Ted Simons:
We're looking at it right now, and we're making our way around the website. You can look at side by side comparisons. What are we looking at?

Ken Bennett:
For example, it Immediately it goes to all of the candidates in the 2010 election cycle. You can see over there on the top right, you've got 2010 election cycle, and the statewide races. If you wanted to, you could go to the state -- you could just say, instead of seeing all the statewide races, I want to see the ones for governor. And then as soon as you do that, all of the ones now displayed are in governor. You can go to the different columns, for example, income or expenditures, and choose one of them and say, let's sort on those either in ascending or descending, and see who has received the most income, or put the most income into their campaign, and you can see it just side by side, and then if you wanted to sort on expenditures, who is spending the most money, you can go over to the expenditure side and see who's spending money in the governor's races. You could further narrow it if you wanted to over on the right by party and some other things, but -- you say, I want to see just these.

Ted Simons:
Yeah, I gotcha. We're moving all over the place here.

Ken Bennett:
And then across the top, you can also see that you can go into different types of committees. You can go into the candidate committees are displayed right now, but you can see to the right, I think that says parties, you can look at what are the committees associated with the parties, whether they're local legislative district committees, or statewide party committees. Next one over there is political action committees, or you can go -- again, you can then begin to just line all these up side by side, you can narrow them down. Or you can go into -- one of the ones you mentioned was the independent expenditures. The Supreme Court recently created a ruling that says corporations and unions can spend money in candidate races to defeat or elect certain candidates, but beginning in a few weeks, those companies will have to report within 24 hours of expending at least $5,000 in a statewide race where those -- who they were spending money on to try to defeat which candidates or support which candidate.

Ted Simons:
Is this labor intensive? Obviously the old system took a lot of work and time, but do you still have to ingest this material?

Ken Bennett:
Well, you still have the responsibility -- you have to know enough about what you're looking for, but as I said, the earlier system, if you wanted to see 12 candidates in the governor's race, had you to go individually into 12 different committees, had you to go through the big database and find which they are, you couldn't sort them in a very user friendly way. And this now would allow people to put all of the governor candidates up there together, or all of one party or all of another. They can put all the statewide races up, they can look at all of the legislative races or just zoom in on their district. And then once that information comes up, that has all the side by sides, if you want to drill down into the actual reports that back up those amounts, you can click on almost any one of those categories across the report and then all of a sudden the individual detail. So, for example, if you see that so-and-so running for governor has raised $2 million, as we have one this year, then you can click on the detail for that income and see, well, most of that came from their own pocket, or three are they getting it from a wide -- .

Ted Simons:
You mentioned the Supreme Court decision, the since united. Did that have an impact into what you were trying to achieve? ! Or were you underway already.

Ken Bennett:
Our I.T. director and one of our other staff members were working on the citizens united case, and one of our other staff members, my assistant secretary of state, said I wonder if we could look at it this way and something clicked, and bill and Jim's head, and they said, why not? Why don't we reformAT this whole thing and restructure it so when people go into this website, they see everything at one glance, and they can start sorting from there depending on which races they want to focus on or which parties. They want to focus on income or spending, they want to focus on political action committees, do they want to -- so it's interesting that this was kind of a result of trying to build the system for the since united case to be ready for unions and corporations that will be reporting their expenditures. But we've broadened it and applied it to all political committees and campaign finance committees in Arizona.

Ted Simons:
The website is --

Ken Bennett:

Ted Simons:
We had a chance to go around it a little bit, but that's one much those things where you find yourself moving around, it's almost like a dictionary, you wind up somewhere far away from where you first started.

Ken Bennett:
At least you find yourself in areas where it's meaningful to you.

Ted Simons:

Ken Bennett:
And -- before you let me go, I have to tell you, your youngest viewer tonight is my niece Christina, who is 7 years old. And I'm going to do a shout out for Christina. Happy birthday to Christina.

Ted Simons:
I think you just did, Happy birthday, Christina. Good to have you with us.

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