An Important Update to Campaign Finance Rules
January 11, 2007
Filed under Open Government
Senator Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) and a bipartisan group of 23 Senators have introducuced a bill, S.223 that would require Senate candidates to file their campaign finance reports electronically. This bill is long overdue, and Feingold should be applauded for pushing this issue. Frankly, the Senate should be embarrassed if this bill is not promptly passed into law. Candidates for the House of Representatives are required to file their campaign finance reports electronically. The Federal Election Commission can then turn around and immediately make the reports available online. Senate candidates' reports, in contrast, are only filed in paper form, and it takes a huge amount of effort to key in the data so it is searchable in electronic form. This means, for example, that the last report that is due before a Senate election may not be searchable online until after the election. S.223 would fix this imbalance and make Senate campaign info as readily available as House info. The availability of campaign finance reports in electronic form has greatly heightened the ability of the public -- including political bloggers -- to scrutinize the campaign spending of candidates, which has in turn increased the transparency of election campaigns. The blogosphere should strongly support this bill.