After a long drawn-out fight with California journalists and civic data and open government activists, California’s Secretary of State agreed in August 2013 to put all the raw data online in a format that’s downloadable. But with 76 different tables and roughly 35 million records, the data was still unwieldy and difficult to use.
Now a group of journalists and data advocates have published an open source tool that makes parsing and analyzing the data easier, according to a report from the Neiman Journalism Lab.
One of data discovery challenges emerged when Meg Whitman ran for governor of California in 2010. Whitman, the Republican nominee, ultimately lost to Democrat Jerry Brown, but her spending ensured that the race was the most expensive non-presidential campaign in American history. But tracing the $144 million she donated to her campaign, out of her own pocket, proved hard to discern from public records.