Jul 25 2013
Measure Requires Senate Candidates to E-File Campaign Reports, Saving Money & Improving Transparency
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Senate committee has approved legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) that would increase transparency and save taxpayer dollars by requiring U.S. Senate candidates to electronically file election-related reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (S.375), introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Cochran in February, was approved late Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. Cochran serves on this committee.
Senate campaign committees are currently the only federal political committees not obliged to electronically file reports and statements with the FEC. S.375 would require Senate campaigns to file campaign finance reports directly with the FEC rather than first filing with the Secretary of the Senate. The Tester-Cochran measure would also save the government approximately $500,000 a year.
“The Senate is an institution that generally cherishes its traditions, but the paper filing of campaign finance reports is one practice that should be modernized,” said Cochran, who is among 16 Senators whose campaign committees voluntarily e-file reports with the FEC.
“Electronic filing would make the reporting process more efficient, save money and improve the ability of voters to access this information. I am pleased the Rules Committee has again embraced this legislation, and I hope that the leadership of the Senate will agree to bring it up for consideration soon,” he said.
Senate candidates continue to file campaign-related reports with the Secretary of the Senate, who prints them and then delivers paper copies of those reports to the FEC. Employees at the FEC must then manually input the reports in order to make them accessible to the public online. In contrast, House and presidential candidates, non-Senate party committees, PACs and 527 organizations have filed electronically with the FEC since 2001.
A bipartisan group of 33 Senators are now cosponsors of the Tester-Cochran bill, which is also supported by the Secretary of the Senate and the FEC. Cochran has been the primary Republican sponsor of similar legislation in previous sessions of Congress.