Electronic Filing in Connecticut
The Hartford Courant editorializes today about Connecticut’s elections commission’s new website that promises significant gains in regard to political transparency for the state. The commission was given the responsibility of designing an electronic campaign reporting system for candidates for state office, PACs and party committees. Now, seeing who has donated money to state candidates will be as simple as online shopping, as The Courant reported last week. "Disclosure is meaningless if the information is not readily accessible, searchable, sortable and easily understood," as the commission’s director was quoted. Amen. Their new database enables candidates, PAC and political party committee chairs and treasurers to electronically submit campaign finance statements and other required information.
The Courant called on the commission to take further steps for transparency. The current law requires only statewide candidates who raise more than $250,000 have to file electronically. Those who do not meet that high threshold, which includes most of the members of the state legislature, are required only to file paper reports. And the editors called the General Assembly to amend the state’s campaign finance law, passed legislatively in 2005, to require electronic filing by all serious candidates for state office and PACs.
Last week the commission held a briefing on the new law and system. At that briefing, State Sen. Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford), co-chair of the committee that spearheaded the passage of the bill, said that transparency was a key goal of the reform. "Since the beginning of time, when you have politics there is a discussion of money," Slossberg said. "As my uncle used to say to me, who was an old Boston politician, if you tell me where a candidate’s money comes from I’ll tell you what his opinions are." Some are hailing Connecticut as the national leader in public oversight of the money-raising process. Let’s hope they finish the job.