Federal Politics

Published — March 19, 2009 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

The battle over disclosing Senate campaign finance records

Introduction

In recent months, Obama’s team has worked strenuously to beam the White House into the 21st century technologically — setting up its own blog, and featuring a YouTube channel and Twitter feed during the election. Yet when it comes to quicker and more accessible campaign finance disclosure, the Senate — his old stomping ground — has stayed mired in the past. Before Sunshine Week wraps up, it’s worth noting why.

Though House and presidential candidates are all required to file their campaign finance disclosures electronically — enabling anyone to readily search them online through databases like Opensecrets.org within 24 hours — the Senate continues to file in paper form.

The system works like this: Senate candidates 1) print out their reports and turn them over to the Senate disclosure office, which 2) re-scans the pages before delivering the computer files to the FEC, which in turn 3) pays a company to retype the forms before putting them online for 4) the public to search.

The process can take up to three months — by which time the election might already be over (and in the meantime, the government’s shelled out $250,000 to a private contractor in Fredericksburg, Virginia, for the service).

That’s not to say it isn’t possible to view Senate disclosures before then. It just means hopping a flight to D.C. to leaf by hand through a candidate’s paper report — some of which can run up to 3,400 pages.

Since November 2003, Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has repeatedly introduced a bill to modernize the system and require electronic filing. Nevertheless, a series of Republican holds have killed the act in recent sessions. This week it surfaced that Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas has reportedly been holding up the measure by attempting to attach a controversial measure requiring groups filing ethics complaints against Congress to identify their donors.

In response, the Sunlight Foundation has set up a site, Pass S.482, to encourage constituents to contact their senators to vote for Feingold’s bill.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.