Senators Urged by Colleagues to File Campaign Finance Reports Electronically. Did Anyone Listen?

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Friday was the deadline for Senate candidates to file their campaign finance disclosure reports. Most did so. On paper. Lots of paper. Senators and Senate candidates delivered reams of paper to the Secretary of the Senate, who turned around and delivered them to the FEC. The FEC is in the process of making the contribution and expenditure information detailed in those reports available to the public online. But, as of this writing, the information is not available on the FEC’s website. Some information should be available in a few days, but not in a searchable format. It will take weeks before searchable, sortable data about who is paying for our elections is available.

A few intrepid Senators took a stand against delayed disclosure. They voluntarily filed their disclosure reports electronically with the FEC. Senators Tester and Cochran sent senators a dear colleague (below), reminding them that filing electronically would allow the public to see detailed campaign finance data immediately.

Unfortunately, most of their colleagues failed to follow their recommendations. In addition to Tester and Cochran, only Boxer, Cornyn, Feinstein, Leahy, Lugar, Sanders and chose to electronically file. All of them have done so previously. Which begs the question, what is stopping the others from allowing the public immediate access to their campaign finance data?

The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, S. 219, would require Senators to file electronically. That bill has been blocked many times in the past and we don’t expect passage to be any easier during the 112th Congress. That is why it is so important for Senators who believe in transparency and support the electronic filing bill to demonstrate their commitment by voluntarily filing electronically. The next filing deadline is July 15. We hope by then more Senators will decide to make their campaign finance data immediately available and will file electronically.

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