Online Database will be Accessible by the Public with Minimal Redaction
Assembly Bill 409, signed by Governor Brown last week, authorizes the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) to establish a statewide online system which allows public officials to electronically file their Statements of Economic Interests (SEI) securely and free of charge. Any public official who timely utilizes this system is presumed to comply with SEI filing requirements. AB 409 was passed as urgency legislation so that it may become effective immediately and the FPPC has already started to develop the online filing system.
In addition, AB 409 authorizes the FPPC to establish a database of SEI information that is accessible on its website in an easily understood format providing the greatest public access. However, the FPPC must develop a policy to redact certain private information, such as signatures of SEI filers. The FPPC must also assist those seeking public access to this information.
California law requires all public officials involved in governmental decision making to file a SEI with either the FPPC, their state agency or their local agency. SEI forms are filed with and maintained by hundreds of different agencies throughout California (mostly in hard copy) and there is currently no centralized online location to search or view this information.
As the FPPC develops this electronic system, it will be required to conduct public hearings to receive input on its implementation, coordinate among affected state and local agencies, and develop training and assistance programs. As part of the implementation process, AB 409 authorizes the FPPC to assume greater filing officer responsibilities for SEI filings upon authorization by the filing officer designated for the official in the Political Reform Act.