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President Obama’s Budget Calls for Electronic Filing of Senate Fundraising Reports

February 2, 2015 | Adam Smith

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President Obama called for the Senate to move to electronic filing of fundraising reports in the administration’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget released on Monday (p. 87). The measure would save up to $500,000 annually.

House candidates have been doing this for years.

While some Senate candidates voluntarily submit their fundraising reports electronically, on paper is the only required method. That process involves printing out hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of pages, mailing them to the Senate Clerk’s office, and then scanning them to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website to later be downloaded by the public as un-searchable PDF files. It’s completely ridiculous and makes it incredibly difficult for voters to track who’s trying to buy access and influence with these politicians in a timely manner.

With so many of the president’s budget proposals likely to fall to partisan gridlock, this is one that could easily pass. As the Center for Public Integrity reported last week, e-filing has broad, bipartisan support. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) will soon reintroduce his Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, a bill that would require electronic filing. Already, at least three new Republican Senators–Steve Daines (Mont.), Thom Tillis (N.C.), and Cory Gardner (Colo.)–have endorsed it. In the 113th Congress, the bill had 51 cosponsors, including eight Republicans.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has blocked efforts to require e-filing in the past, should allow a vote on this measure.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.

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