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Published — August 16, 2013 Updated — May 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm ET

Booker supports e-filing in theory, not in practice

Social media savvy Democratic Senate candidate piling up paper


Cory Booker — the Democratic mayor of Newark, N.J., who cruised to victory Tuesday in a special U.S. Senate primary election — supports a requirement that senators file their campaign finance reports electronically.

“E-filing legislation is an important step towards transparency,” Silvia Alvarez, the Booker campaign’s deputy communications director, told the Center for Public Integrity. “He [Booker] plans to be a leader on this and other transparency measures.”

That may be, but he’s not leading by example.

To date, Booker’s campaign has filed more than 3,000 pages of campaign finance paperwork — a number that will surely grow has he heads into an Oct. 16 general election contest with Republican rival Steve Lonegan.

Unlike candidates for the presidency or U.S. House of Representatives, Senate candidates are not required to electronically file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Instead, they must submit paperwork to the office of the Secretary of the Senate, which, in turn, forwards the reports to the FEC, which then pays an outside firm to perform data entry.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., has introduced bipartisan legislation to make e-filing the rule. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the change would save taxpayers about $500,000 a year.

Sixteen senators across party lines, including Tester, voluntarily e-file their reports, as the Center for Public Integrity has previously noted.

But while Booker supports Tester’s plan, his campaign is unlikely to e-file any time soon, said Alvarez.

“Currently, the Booker campaign is complying with existing filing rules,” Alvarez said — which it will continue to do “until everyone is playing by the same set of rules.”

Booker, who has more than 1.4 million followers on Twitter, gained notoriety for regularly responding to — and aiding — constituents using the social media platform. On the campaign trail, Booker has pledged not to be someone who “plays by the same old rules” if elected to the Senate.

“I don’t want to just go down there and become a part of the system,” he told NBC News earlier this week. “I want to change it.”

Ahead of Tuesday’s primary election, Booker raised more than $8.6 million, records show. That was more than his three Democratic opponents combined. A super PAC active on Booker’s behalf also spent more than $500,000 on the race.

A recent poll showed Booker with a 25 percentage point lead over Lonegan.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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