Inside The Senate's Byzantine Campaign Disclosure System

from the step-by-step dept

Politicians squabble back and forth about the appropriate extent of campaign finance regulations, but there's a general consensus that a record of all campaign donations should be made to the public. For Congressmen and candidates for President, these records are quickly made available online, but members of the upper house, the Senate, have dragged their feet in terms of instituting new reporting mechanisms. Instead of making their contributions instantly available online, the Senate uses a stunningly inefficient method that causes lags of several months from the time a donation is made to the time it's viewable online. Basically, Senators submit their donations on paper, whereupon receipt at the Federal Election Commission they are scanned into a computer and then printed out page by page. The printed copies are then shipped to a private contractor, where workers key in all of the data by hand. This information is then sent back to the FEC to be put online. This process costs the government $250,000 each year, and it keeps Senators from having to be fully open about who is paying for their campaigns. Of course, nobody in the Senate claims to be against a better disclosure system, it's just that nobody is particularly for it either. And nobody but the Senate can make the Senate change its rules.

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  • identicon
    Mit, 7 Feb 2007 @ 4:09am

    Seems like a nice closed system that they have there.

    It seems to me that by improving the system they could restore some of the confidance in the political system.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rose, 7 Feb 2007 @ 4:12am

    Disclosure?

    It is a shame to know that when the word politician comes up in any conversation or media report, I begin to think of the scum of the earth. You know, liars etc, etc. But, the bigger shame is that we all sit by and take their crap without doing anything about it.
    If anyone out there knows why, please, post.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Insensible Bob, 7 Feb 2007 @ 5:15am

    re: Disclosure

    Why do we take their crap? One reason may be that voting is similar to facing a plate of beets, or a plate of liver. Which one do you choose? They both suck. Politicians can basically do whatever they want and no matter how you vote, you will still be voting for a dishonest, lying crook who will conveniently forget any campaign promises as soon as they are in office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Sanguine Dream, 7 Feb 2007 @ 1:47pm

      Re: re: Disclosure

      what bob said plus that fact that once that dishonest lying crook gets into office he/she will literally (re)write the law to protect anything that she/he does. Oh and she/he did forget those campaign promises he/she knew from day one that those promises were just a smoke screen to get into office.

      I'm still waiting for Bush to push for some legal and offical measure that will render he and all his buddies in this current administration immune from charges for the rest of their lives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    |333173|3|_||3, 7 Feb 2007 @ 7:14pm

    Can't the Representatives pass a bill to pressure the senate, forcing them to accept disclosure?

    One advantage of the old system in the UK (pre-1999) was that if a governemnt did not include something in its manifesto, then the Lords would block it if they didn't like it for up to a year, by which time the public has forgotten the point of the bill. THis means that the Opposition can complain that the government isn;t doing what it promised (usually in the budget and interest rates and other things which all politicians will agree on, but none will do), and the Lords could sit on anything which was not promised if they didn't like it. Unfortunately, all the parties simply promised everyting to everyone in thier manifesto and hoped that the news wouldn't spot anything inconsistent.
    Nowadyays, as in most of the rest of the world, the politicians just promise what they want and ignore it the wekk after coming to power. SOme system like that perhaps should be restored, or introduced in otehr countires.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ScytheNoire, 8 Feb 2007 @ 3:07am

    make campaign funding illegal

    problem solved

    hell, that would solve a lot of problems and help out a ton of americans

    but they we'd get politicians who weren't as corrupt and who might actually care about serving the people and not corporate interests

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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