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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  1. 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.

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