Electronic Filing for Senators Moves Forward

The U.S. Senate moved a little closer to entering the electronic age this week when a second Senate committee approved a bill to require electronic filing of U.S. Senate campaign finance reports. Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved Sen. Jon Tester's, D-Mont., bipartisan Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, as part of a broader measure to fund the Congress for the coming year. Last year the Senate Rules Committee approved Tester's proposal. Currently, Senate candidates and the two Senatorial campaign committees are the only categories of Federal Election Campaign Act filers who submit paper copies of their campaign finance reports. These paper reports are then scanned at the Senate, and sent to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) where they are printed off in paper form and sent to an outside vendor for keypunching. Once in electronic form, the FEC makes them available on their website for searching. The delay in searchable disclosure and the extra cost to the taxpayer is somewhat ironic since the two Senatorial campaign committees and almost all of the major party U.S. Senate candidates already maintain their campaign finance records in electronic form.