60 Senators Act to Keep Americans in the Dark About their Campaigns’ Contributors (Just Long Enough)
The filing of campaign finance reports electronically instead of on paper may not seem like a big deal. Who cares about the format, as long as information is made available, right?
If you care about the influence of big money contributors on national politics, you should care about this issue. The United States Senate, unlike almost any other major institution in the nation, allows its members to file campaign finance reports on paper. The effect of this policy is one of delay. When senators file their campaign finance reports in paper form, it takes weeks to months for staffers to type the data in so that you and I can read all about the behavior influence peddlers at the website of the Federal Election Commission. Every time there’s an election, disclosure of the most important contributions of the last six months of a Senate race must wait until after Election Day because of the paper rule. That’s when it’s too late for such information to matter.
If passed, S. 366 would bring the Senate into the 21st Century and require electronic submission of campaign finance data like just about every other major political institution does. But the bill hasn’t passed, because S. 366 has only 40 supporters who have signed on as cosponsors. They are:
There are 10 Republican supporters of the bill, 1 Independent supporter and 29 Democratic supporters within the Senate. If one of your senators does not appear in the above list, she or he has not supported the bill to increase campaign finance disclosure and is instead acting to passively block constituents from finding out about campaign shenanigans in good time. A majority of senators — 60 out of 100, disproportionately but not entirely Republican — have been blocking this bill from moving forward.
When a fatcat is buying your senator, you should find out in time to change your vote. Barring that, at least you should know when your senator is acting to keep you from knowing that.