Ensign Blames Democrats for Electronic Filing Holdup

Posted October 21, 2008 at 11:49am

National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Ensign (Nev.) continued to blame Democrats on Tuesday for holding up legislation that would require Senate campaign committees, which now file their fundraising totals on paper, to submit their forms electronically.

“I’m 100 percent for electronic reporting,” Ensign said during an appearance at the National Press Club. “I’ve said that many, many times.”

Instead, Ensign reiterated to reporters claims he made in a letter late last year to Senate Rules and Administration Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). In the letter, Ensign blamed Feinstein for blocking the electronic-filing measure by not considering a Republican-backed amendment that would require Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and other nonprofit groups that regularly file ethics complaints to disclose their donors.

“I’m concerned that any group can bring an ethics complaint, any individual can bring an ethics complaint without disclosing who they are — they can write it literally on a napkin — and then the ethics committee has to start an investigation,” Ensign said.

Since Jan. 1, 2006, CREW has filed one ethics complaint against a Senate Democrat, Mary Landrieu (La.) and seven against Senate Republicans, according to the organization’s Web site.

Howard Gantman, a Feinstein spokesman, said Senate Democrats again tried to pass a stand-alone electronic-filing bill by unanimous consent before Members departed recently for the campaign trail, but Republicans balked — and added that the standoff is likely to continue.

“For a year and a half, we’ve been wanting to move the bill by itself,” Gantman said. Ensign is “basically saying the only the way it can move is we vote on a second amendment related to ethics … that’s got nothing to do with campaign finance.”

Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.