The New York Times editorialized today in support of the Senate passing the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, S. 482, which would require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically. The Times gets it. Hopefully, Congress will get it this year and pass this commonsense bill:
Timely electronic filing of donations is required of all House and presidential candidates. But not in the Senate. There, members apparently find it too onerous to hit the send button. Instead, their own computerized information is first printed out onto paper, which is then sent in sheaves to clerks to be re-entered ever so slowly into a different computer system.
It is a Dickensian act of redundancy that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. By the time the full money trail is published, Election Day has often come and gone.
A bill to end the foolscap evasion is ready for the Senate floor. The measure from Russ Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, has considerable support from Democrats. But the last time the electronic filing measure came up, Republicans — still smarting from the Jack Abramoff scandal — pushed a poison pill amendment requiring that any good government group that dares to file complaints about members with the Senate Ethics Committee disclose its donors to the Senate.
These groups are already required to file that information with the I.R.S., but not to any other agency under protections dating back to the civil rights era when segregationist lawmakers tried to obtain the N.A.A.C.P.’s membership lists. It’s time for the Senate to get past such pettiness. Hit the enter key; step into the sunshine.