…finds a acorn now and then.
I often disagree with the Washington Post, but when they get it right they slam it out of the park.
Today the WaPo editorial section returned to the matter of the Senate Financial disclosure process. Calling it Dark Ages Disclosure, the editorial criticized the Senate’s failure to require electronic submission of campaign finance disclosure documents. What is astounding is that the original of this editorial was printed three years ago, which means there have been two Senate election cycles w/o required electronic submissions. Compare to the House of Representatives. I know the House required electronic submissions in 2004, and perhaps as far back as 2002.
The Post is absolutely correct in its comdemnation of this practice. The US Senate was created to allow for cool and deliberate consideration of national matters, as opposed to the more hot-blooded House of Representatives. However, this deliberate nature was intended for legislative matters, not internal administrative matters.
How bad is the situation? As the Post notes:
According to the Campaign Finance Institute, as late as the week before Election Day, in all 10 of the most closely followed Senate races, no detailed information was available online about contributions between Oct. 1 and Oct. 18, the last filing period before the election. For six candidates in those races — Democrats Ned Lamont (Conn.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), and Republicans Mike DeWine (Ohio), Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Thomas H. Kean Jr. (N.J.) — the only financial information available was from before June 30.
Compare this to House races, where disclosure documents are ready for electronic inspection within minutes of successful submission.
The US Senate needs to take advantage of the digital age and require electronic submission. It works, it is effective, and it opens the financing of senate campaigns to the sunlight.
I will go a step further. The GOP should wake up put this idea into law before the current Congress ends. It is good policy-see above; it is good politics-let the GOP take this step for more open governance before the new democratic majority beats them to it; and it is good electoral strategy-it gives both sides in a campaign a glimpse into what the other side is doing, and potentially helps plan strategy.