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Campaign reform hits the Web in Atascadero 

Atascadero has become the first city in San Luis Obispo County to put campaign contribution reports online.

By law, political candidates need to publicly disclose who gives funds to their campaign and where it’s spent. Paper records of campaign statements—Form 460—are available at city and county clerk’s offices.

But posting the information online gets tricky. The forms contain personal information such as addresses and phone numbers of candidates and their contributors. Although the information is public, when it goes online it’s considered to be published, triggering a host of legal worries.

Most local governments choose simply to not post it online because of the logistics of removing private information and having to electronically scan the forms.

Atascadero City Clerk Marcia Torgerson said she posted the forms online because of a strong public interest in viewing the information. The forms are already copied and placed in a binder for the public, she said, so the next step was to just scan and post them online.

The 2008 contribution reports are available in the Election Information section of the Atascadero Web site, atascadero.org.

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