President Obama’s 2014 budget includes a Sunlight priority that won’t erase the deficit, but will streamline the way that important campaign finance information becomes public. Last year, we noted that Obama had included a provision in his FY13 budget proposal that would require Senate Campaign Committees to file their campaign finance reports electronically and it appears that he’s pushing the idea again this year.
Specific language can be found in a document outlining spending for “Other Independent Agencies.” It is very similar to the provisions included in the FY13 request and reads:
The Budget proposes that Senate Campaign Committees be required to file campaign finance reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, which is consistent with the reporting requirements for all other Federal political committees. This measure will save at least $430,000 annually by reducing costs for manual data entry and will also promote transparency by expediting the process by which the reports are made available to the public.
The Senate has been hesitant to take this step into the 21st century, although the idea has a champion in Senator Jon Tester who introduced the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act in the 112th Congress and again earlier this year.
Requiring the Senate to file their campaign finance reports electronically with the FEC is a simple and cost effective way to increase transparency and efficiency. Hopefully this provision will make its way into whatever budget plan successfully passes Congress.