Following up on her decision to facilitate the request of a coalition of research, advocacy and news organizations that wanted access to raw campaign and lobbying data, Secretary of State Deborah Bowen last week announced the data are now online for the public to download.

“Following the money in politics and government is essential for making informed decisions at the ballot box,” said Bowen in a press announcement.   “The Secretary of State website is always evolving to ensure that everyone, from the occasional user to the information technology expert, can obtain public information in the way most useful to them.”

In April, the coalition requested Bowen to change the way the public is able to tap into the state’s Cal-Access database to enhance the tracking of campaign finance funding.   At the time, Cal-Access allowed users to search categories of information that were posted in spreadsheets.   The raw database, which allows users to manipulate and compare data, was available by requesting a CD-ROM at the cost of $5.

Now the full raw data are available in tab-delimited text files and will be updated daily to the agency’s website, according to Bowen’s office.    Anyone with the technical skills can download the data and create their own database or mashup.