FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2012
SCHUMER CALLS FOR QUICK PASSAGE OF E-FILING LEGISLATION THAT WOULD INCREASE TRANSPARENCY OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, today called for quick passage of a bill to increase transparency in Senate campaign finance reporting by requiring Senate candidates to file these documents electronically with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Schumer made the comments at a Senate hearing he chaired on the legislation, known as the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act.
The bill is sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester. Schumer is a cosponsor.
In addition to allowing the public more immediate and complete access to these documents, electronic filing would eliminate unnecessary and costly steps required for filing on paper, saving taxpayers about $500,000 each year. It would also make campaign filing rules uniform between the Senate and the House.
“For transparency’s sake, it is time for the Senate to move to a modern system of filing of its campaign finance reports,” said Schumer. “This bill would not only save hundreds of thousands of dollars for taxpayers each year, it would also help provide more immediate and complete access to campaign spending reports. The public deserves the utmost transparency when it comes to campaign finances, and the Senate’s switch to an e-filing system is long overdue.”
Under current Senate procedure, campaigns file their finance reports on paper with the Secretary of the Senate, whose office then scans and sends an electronic copy of each page to the FEC. Upon receipt of the documents, an FEC employee must print out the pages and mail them to a private contractor who manually types the information into a searchable format and emails it back to the FEC, where it is finally posted on the internet. This process is not only expensive, but also creates an unnecessary delay in public access to the campaign finance information on the FEC website. Tester’s bill would require candidates to file directly to the FEC electronically, bypassing the Secretary of the Senate.
The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act currently has 24 co-sponsors from both political parties, including Rules committee members Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Schumer. It has a total of 7 Republican and 17 Democratic co-sponsors. Similar legislation was originally introduced in 2003 by former Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI). It has been reintroduced in every Congress since then, and has had up to 47 co-sponsors.