The Long Beach Police Officers Association, just like many other unions across the state and the nation, has long used campaign contributions to exert political influence and advocate for candidates and measures that support its members’ interests.

By scouring hundreds of campaign finance forms, the Long Beach Post has created a searchable database of the contributions the union has made over the past five years.

Keeping track of these contributions can be difficult, given myriad ways unions can support political campaigns:

  • Direct donations: Individuals, businesses and unions can give directly to a candidate for any office, but these donations are capped depending on the office the candidate is running for.
  • Independent expenditures: payments for campaign expenses, such as phone programs, mailers and supplies, that are made on behalf of a candidate or measure. Benefactors are not legally allowed to coordinate directly with the candidate.
  • Contributions to larger political action committees: local committees often contribute financially to larger PACs within their industry or interest group, who then pool those funds to support candidates or measures on the state and national level.

Some of these contributions are recorded by the secretary of state’s office and fed into a searchable database, but there are exceptions, local races being the most significant one.

Anyone hoping to better understand the influence of their local police union on the city or county level will have to rely on city and county clerks, whose platforms for sharing campaign finance information can vary greatly.

The Long Beach city clerk’s CampaignDocs Search Portal allows for a search by filer, candidate, measure and other information commonly included on the variety of forms candidates and committees have to file whenever they make or receive campaign contributions.

From there, the information has to be pulled from each individual PDF file, which often contains several contributions, some of which may be repeated in other campaign finance forms, which can lead to duplicates in the portal’s automated export function.

After scouring hundreds of datapoints, manually entering each contribution and eliminating duplicates, the Long Beach Post has created the database below, which is easily searchable by entering the name of a candidate, measure or political action committee.

Want to dig deeper into the data? We’ve made our Workbench for this project public. Search, filter and combine data points here.