Senators Tester and Cochran, champions of common sense legislation that would require senators and senate candidates to electronically file their campaign finance reports, yesterday offered a version of their bill as an amendment to the STOCK Act. Sunlight applauds their effort and wrote a letter to all senators urging them to support the amendment.
Sunlight has long supported the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a much needed and long overdue remedy to the absurd system in place in the Senate. Currently, senate candidates file their quarterly campaign finance reports with the Secretary of the Senate, who then prints them out on reams of paper and delivers them to the Federal Election Commission. The FEC then inputs the information contained in those reports into its computer databases. The archaic and costly process delays public access to information about who is funding Senate campaigns, sometimes until after the election takes place.
By contrast, senators’ counterparts in the House, as well as presidential candidates and PACs, have, for years, electronically filed their campaign finance reports directly with the FEC, avoiding the wasteful, duplicative and opaque senate system.
Versions of this 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. Yet it has not been enacted because it has been the victim of politics. Senator Mitch McConnell has repeatedly demanded that a vote on the electronic filing bill be linked to a vote on unrelated proposal that would, if enacted, actually decrease transparency by posing burdens on groups filing ethics complaints against any sitting senator.
By offering the electronic filing bill as an amendment to the STOCK Act, there is a real opportunity to make this piece of legislation law. We hope it comes up for a vote and that every senator supports it. There is no reason not to.