US Senators Still Trying to Figure Out Computers and Internet

If you think the US Senate is going to figure out a way to track the billions of dollars they are giving away forget it. It seems they still have not even figured out how to use computers and the Internet to even track their own campaigns.

For years Senate Republicans have been blocking legislation requiring them to use computers to move reporting of their campaign financing into the digital age. A New York Times editorial last year summed up the still current status of first filing paper copies of campaign records that then have to be scanned and resent to the Federal Elections Commission.

“Unlike the House, it (the US Senate) still refuses to require electronic filing of its campaign finance data. It clings to an old slow-motion paper system that builds in months of obfuscation by requiring print records that have to be scanned and e-mailed to election officials, who in turn have to do their own processing and printing before the information is publicly available. Senate Republican leaders have, scandalously, been blocking a good bill that would force campaign reporting into the digital age.”

Once again a bill is being introduced to correct this absurd situation. Let’s hope this time that the Democrats have enough audacity to tell the holdout Republicans, particularly Senator John Ensign of Nevada who put a hold on this bill in the past, to get with the program and move into the digital age. It’s way past time.

Talk about wasting money and resources still filing paperwork in the digital age. Of course for the Republicans it was merely a delaying tactic to prevent the public from getting timely information on campaign contributions.

As Reid Wilson reports on the Hill:

Under the current system, Senate campaigns file paper copies of their quarterly disclosure reports with the Secretary of the Senate, which then transmits those reports to the Federal Election Commission.
House campaigns are required to file their reports electronically and directly to the FEC, making for sortable databases and easily compilable statistics.
But the Senate process is cumbersome, often taking weeks to produce results readily available on the Internet.“If you can’t search on the Web, you can’t get timely information about contributions. It takes weeks for the contributions to get in any online database,” Weissman said. “It’s critical if you’re talking about an election coming up and the voters knowing who’s supporting the candidates.”

As it is the Congress still use quarterly filing and it is way past time to also move to monthly campaign reporting. Washington State has done monthly reporting for years. Congress should also and quit hiding information from the public about who is contributing to Senate campaigns.

The Hill notes that Senator Feingold and Senator Cochran first introduced the legislation entitled the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act in 2003. Feingold is going to reintroduce the bill again in the next few weeks and has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Help urge the US Senate on and send an e-mail to your Senators urging they join the digital revolution in reporting campaign contributions. Click on the link to email Washington State’s Senators:

Senator Maria Cantwell

Senator Patty Murray

To e-mail Senators in other states go to the US Senate website.

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