It’s like déjà vu all over again. During the 110th Congress, Senator Russ Feingold (Wis.) introduced S. 223, the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a bill that would do nothing more onerous than require senators to electronically file their campaign finance reports. Majority Leader Reid attempted to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, only to have it blocked by a controversial, unrelated “poison pill” amendment offered by a single Republican senator. Early in the 111th Congress, Sen. Feingold introduced the same bill, now as S. 482, Majority Leader Reid is attempting to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. But – here we go again – another single Republican senator has indicated his intention to offer a controversial, unrelated “poison pill” amendment that will kill the bill if it is approved.
We are getting tired of that same old story. To avoid yet another retelling in the 112th Congress, nine organizations have joined us as we launched a new campaign, to make it easy for you to help make sure the Senate finally passes this no-brainer legislation.
It’s long past time for senators to join their counterparts in the House, presidential candidates and PACs, and file their campaign finance reports electronically so that the public can have timely, online access to important information about who is funding their campaigns. Senators have for too long held fast to an archaic system of filing their quarterly reports with the Secretary of the Senate, who then prints them out and delivers them to the Federal Election Commission. The agency then inputs the information into its computer databases so it can be publicly viewed online, all at annual cost of about a quarter-million dollars of taxpayer money. Eliminating this duplicative exercise won’t balance the budget, but the outmoded process is worse than simply wasteful. Re-entering the data delays public access to crucial information about who is funding Senate campaigns until well after the election takes place.
The bill has no public opposition, and 28 senators have joined Feingold as cosponsors. But, unless an amendment likely to be offered by Sen. Pat Roberts (Kan.) is defeated, the bill will go down again. The Roberts amendment would force nonprofit and religious organizations to disclose the names of anyone who gives $5,000 or more to the organization any time the group exercises its right to file a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee. This irrelevant amendment has no place in the bill, and we need you to call your senators, and ask them to oppose it.
This is a story that does not need to be repeated. Help us make sure we don’t have to tell it all over again.