Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2020):

Revenue: $5,508,947
Expenses: $6,743,669
Assets: $5,560,473


Sacramento, CA





Neil Chase

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

CalMatters is a left-of-center media organization that publishes articles covering current events and politics in the state of California. 1 CalMatters publishes legislative trackers and voter guides for California voters, publishing the status of California state legislation and information regarding all elected positions. Its guides align with a broadly left-leaning policy outlook. 2 3


Founded in 2014, CalMatters is a California-based, left-of-center nonprofit media organization that began publishing in July 2015, originally advocating for environmentalist policy and against the use of conventional energy sources. It publishes political news articles on California’s current events and uses a left-leaning framing to “explain” the implications of reported stories. 4

In 2021, CalMatters reported having over 10 million website viewers, 60 million impressions on social media, 150 thousand email subscribers, and 2 million engagements. As of July 2022, Calmatters reports having 1 million monthly website viewers, not including media organizations that pick up its stories, including Apple News and Patch. 5


Voter Guides

CalMatters publishes voter guides specific to California elections. Prior to the June 2022 primary elections, CalMatters reported that its 2022 voter guide had over 600,000 viewers. 6 The voter guide provides a description on what is expected of each elected position and takes a left-leaning framing on what issues the position can address. 7

Legislator Tracker

CalMatters’s website has a “Legislator Tracker” that provides an analysis and update on proposed California state legislation. It uses the Legislator Tracker to assign values of legislators and political candidates, using its own metrics to label how liberal or conservative politicians are based on what legislation they have supported or opposed. The Legislator Tracker also highlights legislators’ race, gender, and identity. 8

Staying Sheltered Newsletter

CalMatters has a “Staying Sheltered” newsletter that reports on families and people who are having financial issues to advocate for extending California’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium or another form of government welfare to subsidize housing. 9

Environment Newsletter

CalMatters’s “Environment” newsletter publishes articles covering updates on energy legislation in the state of California as well as other policies that affect the environment. Articles within the newsletter support environmentalist policy and advocate for policy that restricts the use of conventional energy sources. 10

California Divide Newsletter

CalMatters has a “California Divide” newsletter that advocates for increased social programs that distribute various forms of welfare relief to individuals contingent on the status of their race, gender, and nationality. The newsletter also supports increasing the California minimum wage as well as creating additional regulations on businesses. 11 12 13


David Lesher is a co-founder of CalMatters and worked as an editor and CEO until December 2018 when he became editor-in-chief. He previously served as director of government affairs for the Public Policy Institute of California. Lesher has spent over 25 years as a journalist, most notably as a political writer for the Los Angeles Times,  editor of California Journal magazine, and California director for the New America Foundation. 14

Marcia Parker was publisher and COO of CalMatters from February 2017 to June 2022. In June 2022, she became vice president of philanthropic partnerships for the New York Times. Parker has chaired the board of directors for the Institute for Nonprofit News since December 2017. 15


In 2020, CalMatters reported receiving $5.5 million in contributions and received $5.5 million in total revenue. 16 It also reported spending $4.9 million on salaries and compensation out of $6.7 million in total expenses. 17


  1. “Explainers.” CalMatters. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  2. Christopher, Ben. “Governor – Voter Guide 2022.” CalMatters, July 15, 2022.
  3. “About the California Legislator Tracker.” CalMatters, August 23, 2021.
  4. “Explainers.” CalMatters. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  5. “Impact.” CalMatters. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  6. Kamal, Sameea. “2022 Voter Guide.” CalMatters, April 29, 2022.
  7. [1] Christopher, Ben. “Governor – Voter Guide 2022.” CalMatters, July 15, 2022.
  8. “About the California Legislator Tracker.” CalMatters, August 23, 2021.
  9. “Staying Sheltered.” CalMatters. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  10. “Environment.” CalMatters. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  11.  “California Divide.” CalMatters. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  12. Kuang, Jeanne. “Proposal to Boost State Minimum Wage to $18 Won’t Go on Ballot .” CalMatters, July 1, 2022.
  13. Kuang, Jeanne. “Covid Pulls down Latino, Black, Asian Life Expectancy More than Whites, Study Says.” CalMatters, July 7, 2022.
  14. Lesher, David. “Author – David Lesher.” CalMatters, December 10, 2021.
  15. “Marcia Parker – Vice President, Philanthropic Partnerships – LinkedIn.” LinkedIn. Accessed July 31, 2022.
  16. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). CalMatters. 2020. Part I, lines 8-12.
  17. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990). CalMatters. 2020. Part I, lines 13-18.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2015

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2020 Dec Form 990 $5,508,947 $6,743,669 $5,560,473 $2,069,523 N $5,514,922 $0 $-13,677 $693,200 PDF
    2019 Dec Form 990 $5,787,517 $4,550,329 $5,101,127 $413,535 N $5,643,242 $116,604 $15,822 $617,907 PDF
    2018 Dec Form 990 $3,565,526 $2,918,086 $3,710,129 $265,315 N $3,473,160 $83,624 $1,935 $352,670 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $2,092,071 $2,185,386 $500,112 $118,033 N $2,091,300 $0 $211 $322,217
    2016 Dec Form 990 $1,789,131 $1,586,777 $528,605 $16,837 N $1,788,930 $0 $201 $302,964 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $1,209,158 $899,744 $368,406 $58,992 N $1,208,966 $0 $192 $285,147 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)