FOR years now, presidential candidates and those running for House seats have dutifully filed their campaign financing reports, as required by federal law, electronically. But the Senate, ever arrogant, has clung to an antique, cumbersome paper method that serves to delay final disclosure of donors, often until after Election Day.
Only the Senate can change this, and while the Rules Committee is about to make another attempt, voters should not count on any swift change to the status quo.
Here is it how it works: Instead of filing financial reports with the Federal Election Commission by a push of a button, senators and candidates for the Senate first print their records on paper. Then they send them by post to the Senate secretary’s office.
They are scanned into digital images that are emailed to the election commission, where they are printed and collated. The thousands of pages produced are next sent to a private contractor to be typed into a searchable electronic format for emailing back to the FEC. Then, at last, the reports are posted on the Internet.
In past attempts to fix this problem, a bipartisan commitment was crippled by obstructive gambits. One year, it was a hold placed on the reform measure by an anonymous senator. Other times, a filibuster or a lawmaker’s poison-pill amendment let senators off the hook for timely disclosure.
As many more millions pour into campaigns this election season, it is past time for the Senate to stop hiding behind its foolscap.
Pass SB 219 to catch up to the modern world and hit Enter.