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In the Senate, Tim Kaine Stood on the Side of Quick Campaign Transparency

For more than a decade, the Senate has considered but never passed bills that would change the way senators’ campaign finance reports are filed, from the old paper forms to new electronic forms…

… and this is the part where your attention starts to drift away. Forms. Filings. Finance. Zzzzz, right?

Wrong.

In an age of computerized data, senators who file their campaign finance reports in paper form are engaging in classic politics of delay. You see, it takes weeks to months for staffers to type the many pages of financial data that senators turn in.  This means that it takes weeks to months for you and I to get access to Federal Election Commission information on exactly who’s been funneling money to what senators.

The bottom line: because the Senate bizarrely sticks to paper reports, disclosure of the most important contributions of the last six months of a Senate race must wait until after Election Day.  That’s when it’s too late for such information to matter.

In the 113th Congress, the bill to change Senate reports to quicker, more immediately transparent electronic filings was S. 375.  In the current 114th Congress, that bill is S. 366.  In both the 113th and 114th Congress, a majority of Republicans (with a few recalcitrant Democrats thrown in to boot) refused to support these bills, and so they’ve gone nowhere.  These legislative blockaders are trying to keep their shenanigans secret.

As a vice presidential candidate, Tim Kaine has a lot of problems.  But on this particular problem, Tim Kaine’s been on the right side.

P.S. In Hillary Clinton’s single term in the Senate, she was on the right side of this issue, too.

 

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