Senate E-Filing Bill Reintroduced, Pass S. 482

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Here we go again! Just today, Sen. Russ Feingold introduced a bill, S. 482, to require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically, rather than in paper format. The Senate is the only body that does not require the electronic filing of these reports, causing delays in disclosure and a general loss of transparency for the public. Feingold has introduced a version of this bill in each of the last three Congresses. We hope that this is the last year that Sen. Feingold has to introduce this bill.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a co-sponsor, explained the bill as “a no-brainer. It should be approved expeditiously to increase disclosure and move the Senate’s reporting system into the 21st century.” Also, Sen. Thad Cochran, the lead Republican co-sponsor, hopes that “the Senate will consider the bill in a timely manner and approve it so that we can begin to operate under a modern filing system.”

The Sunlight Foundation has actively pressed for the passage of this commonsense bill for over two years now. Last year, the previous version of the bill, S. 223, was blocked by Sen. John Ensign after he attempted to attach a poison pill amendment to the bill. This year, we hope that the Senate will consider this bill on its own merits and not try and block it or weigh it down. As has been stated in previous sessions of Congress, there is no public opposition to the bill itself. If you want to see our previous coverage of the bill please follow the tags “Electronic Filing” and “S. 223“.

The bill as introduced has 25 co-sponsors hailing from both parties. They are: Sens. Akaka, Alexander, Bennett, Bingaman, Brown, Cardin, Chambliss, Cochran, Dodd, Durbin, Feinstein, Grassley, Harkin, Isakson, Kerry, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lugar, McCain, Nelson (NE), Reed, Reid, Rockefeller, and Schumer. We hope that more join on to support transparency and Pass S. 482.

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  • Great news!

    Though Sen. Feingold’s press release indicates a misunderstanding senators have about the ramifications of filing on paper: “Under the current paper filing system, the FEC’s detailed coding, which allows for more sophisticated searches and analysis, is completed over a week later for Senate reports than for House reports.”

    “Over a week”? More like two to three months — that’s how long it takes for the FEC to key in every Senate candidates’ contribution data. All the more reason to enter the 21st century.

    And here’s one more reason: saving paper. Senators’ campaign finance reports can be hundreds of pages long. Electronic filing will save hundreds of thousands of sheets every election cycle.

    Pass S. 482!