Dep't. of Unsexy: Support Disclosure Parity

| Tue Aug. 5, 2008 11:14 AM EDT

You want no-brainer legislation? Here's no-brainer legislation.

The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (S. 223) eliminates the archaic system by which the Senate files campaign fundraising disclosure forms, a system the House did away with years ago. Currently, House candidates and presidential candidates file their fundraising disclosures electronically to the Federal Elections Commission, meaning that information about who is filling the candidates' coffers gets to the public expeditiously.

The Senate on the other hand has preserved for itself a system that adds darkness and delay to the process. Senate candidates file their reports with the office of the Secretary of the Senate, which prints them out and delivers them in paper to the FEC. The FEC then inputs them into its computer databases, which can accessed by the public online and allows great groups like the Center for Responsive Politics and the Sunlight Foundation to do the things they do so well. The process takes months, meaning that fundraising in the homestretch of any Senate campaign is effectively done without oversight by the public.

Six good government reform groups are pushing for the passage of S. 223, and have set up a website where you can put your weight behind them. You can also see if your senators back the bill.

Two previous versions of the bill have failed, but every time Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduces it, he gains co-sponsors. In 2003-2004, he had 2. In 2005-2006, he had 23. Today he has 42. So the bill has never had a better chance of passing. As the title of this post suggests, disclosure requirements are an unsexy topic, so the few people who actually care have to do what they can to help.