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Disclosure Delayed is Disclosure Denied: Another Year, Another Bill to Bring Senate Disclosure into the 21st Century

S. 366, a bill introduced by Montana Senator Jon Tester, would require senators to file campaign finance reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission, not on paper with the Senate.

This may not sound like an important distinction, but the practical effect of the current system is to delay the processing of campaign contribution reports, often until after an election is over, as FEC staff laboriously type in Senate campaign reports into computer databases.  This means that the discovery of unsavory campaign expenditures to Senators is made more difficult and often practically impossible during the period before the election when such information would matter most.

Tester’s bill, the continuation of a veteran effort by ex-Senator Russ Feingold in previous sessions of Congress, would increase efficiency within the government, increase transparency of information to reporters, and increase the accountability of Senators to American citizens.  Tester himself has brought up the bill numerous times.  In the last two-year session of Congress, the bill was known as S. 375.  Before that, it was S. 219.

Another Congress, the same text, the same dismal odds.  Some members of the Senate support the change to electronic disclosure.  They are a minority.  The majority don’t.

Let’s focus on the Senators who have cosponsored S. 366, who do support meaningful, timely campaign finance disclosure.  They are, along with Jon Tester (listed with date of cosponsorship):

Sen. Cochran, Thad [R-MS]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Leahy, Patrick J. [D-VT]* 02/04/2015
Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Udall, Tom [D-NM]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Boxer, Barbara [D-CA]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Durbin, Richard [D-IL]* 02/04/2015
Sen. King, Angus S. Jr. [I-ME]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Heitkamp, Heidi [D-ND]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Warren, Elizabeth [D-MA]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Donnelly, Joe [D-IN]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Brown, Sherrod [D-OH]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Sanders, Bernard [I-VT]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [D-NY]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Menendez, Robert [D-NJ]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Hirono, Mazie K. [D-HI]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Heinrich, Martin [D-NM]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Franken, Al [D-MN]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Murphy, Christopher S. [D-CT]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Cardin, Benjamin L. [D-MD]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Peters, Gary C. [D-MI]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Merkley, Jeff [D-OR]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Kaine, Tim [D-VA]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Ayotte, Kelly [R-NH]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Gardner, Cory [R-CO]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Scott, Tim [R-SC]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Wicker, Roger F. [R-MS]* 02/04/2015
Sen. Daines, Steve [R-MT]* 02/04/2015

That’s not nearly enough members for the bill to pass.  If your members of the Senate aren’t listed, ask yourself what they have to hide.


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