Today, Senator Tester announced that once again he has introduced the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, (not yet online) a bill that would bring the Senate into the 21st Century by requiring senators and Senate candidates to electronically file their campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.
The current filing system in place in the Senate would laughable if it weren’t so destructive to disclosure. Senate candidates file their quarterly campaign finance reports with the Secretary of the Senate, who prints them out on reams of paper to be delivered to the Federal Election Commission. The FEC then inputs the information contained in those reports into its computer databases. Transparency delayed is transparency denied. The Senate system is anathema to anyone who supports meaningful disclosure.
House candidates and presidential candidates, by contrast, have been electronically filing their campaign finance reports for over a decade—streamlining the process and saving taxpayer money. It is estimated that the duplicative paper filing system in place in the Senate costs up to a half a million dollars annually.
Versions of the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act have been introduced with significant bipartisan support in multiple prior congresses. No Senator that we know of has ever publicly opposed the legislation. The only reason the bill is not law is because it has been used for partisan political squabbles. As the Senate struggles with massive challenges facing the country, from sequestration to guns to immigration, perhaps this year Senators can finally agree to enact a bill that no one can disagree with.