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Tag Archive: Electronic Filing

Progress on Senate Electronic Filing Bill–Will it be Enough?

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With no debate, minimal discussion and not even a whisper of an objection, the Senate Rules committee yesterday sent S. 375, the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, to the floor of the Senate by a voice vote. The understated proceedings reflect the nature of the legislation. The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act is, at its core, a technical fix to an antiquated paper filing process. It's not a major change to the law that would require hours of debate. If the Senate were a rational body, the noncontroversial legislation would be enacted immediately and without fanfare. But assuming the Senate is rational is a big “if.”

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States Lead on E-Filing, Will the Senate Catch Up?

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It seems our Senators have a thing or two learn from their home states when it comes to campaign finance reporting: 31 states currently require mandatory electronic reporting ("e-filing") of their elected representative's campaign finance records -- a leap above our Senate, which has failed to pass no-brainer e-filing legislation for over a decade. Sunlight conducted a review of the current state of similar filings in the states (see chart below), and the results are pretty surprising -- in a great way. State governments across the country -- 92% of them, in fact -- require at least optional, if not mandatory electronic filing for both houses of their bicameral legislatures.

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Free the Bill: It’s time for Electronic Filing Legislation to Become Law

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Senate E-Filing At Its FinestOne week from today, House and Senate candidates will file their campaign finance reports. Even this far out from the next elections, many thousands of pages documenting many millions of dollars of campaign contributions will be filed. And those reports will contain some interesting information—which donors are trying to make their mark by giving early and often; which industries are hedging their bets by donating to both parties and which are more partisan; whether there is a spike in contributions that can be tied to a particular issue or interest; and which special interest may be using the campaign finance process to gain access or influence with particular members of Congress.

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The Senate is trying to trim its budget. They can boost transparency at the same time.

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380,251. That is the number of pages contained in more than 5,000 campaign reports that the Secretary of the Senate's Office of Public Records scanned, processed, and sent to the FEC last year. That number emerged during testimony given by Secretary of the Senate Nancy Erickson to justify her budget request before the Senate Appropriations Committee's Legislative Branch Subcommittee this morning. Despite their frugal rhetoric, most Senators have refused to move past their costly, inefficient paper-based campaign finance filing system. As they try to find ways to trim budgets, they should eliminate the expensive, anachronistic, and opaque practice of filing their campaign finance reports on paper rather than electronically, as presidential and House candidates along with Political Action Committees have been doing for years.

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