Bring the Senate into the 21st Century

Call Senator Lott today

By krempasky Posted in Comments (10) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

There aren’t too many issues on which the liberal and conservative work well together. Transparency in government is one. And today, Adam Bonin makes a fantastic point – and one that we ought to take up as our own: why on earth, in this era of digital politics, do Senate campaigns still file their reports...on PAPER?!

It’s true. While all the campaigns for the House – even the White House – file their reports electronically, allowing anyone with an internet connection to do their own research, in the Senate, “candidates deliver their reports on paper (even though those reports are written on computers). The paper filings are laboriously scanned and then key-punched into an electronic system, a procedure that often takes six weeks to finish and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

There’s a bill to fix this, of course. And unfortunately for our side – it’s one of our guys holding it up. S. 1508 is stuck in Trent Lott’s Rules and Administration Committee. (Also, it looks like Senator McConnell might have a hand in slowing this down as well)

So please, get on the phone and call Senator Lott’s office at (202) 224-6253. Make sure they know that S 1508 deserves a hearing – and deserves a vote.

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Bring the Senate into the 21st Century 10 Comments (0 topical, 10 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

If Senators are anything like Law Professors as a species (and in many cases, they are) it's reasonable to think that even at this late date they can't stand the idea of having their procedures changed (even those absolutely pointless busywork, office procedures) to accomodate technology and save some money in the process.

For all of the talking that has ever been done about the digital divide, the greatest example of it that I have ever seen has occurred among law professors and other people in similar positions. They don't understand technology and frankly, in many cases, don't want to. Those emperors have no clothes.

This explains why all the corruption scandals: Ney, Cunningham, Moran, Mollohan, Jefferson, occur in the Senate, rather than the House..., Not!

Brad Smith
Professor of Law
Capital University Law School

I should have said, most law professors. My apologies.

. . . do you oppose electronic filing?

I outline my thoughts at Center for Competitive Politics blog. My basic point is that while everyone seems to favor anything labeled "disclosure," in fact the case for "disclosure" is often quite weak - and that is true on the question of Senate filing.

For the record, during my tenure on the FEC I voted in favor of FEC recommendations to Congress that the Senate file electronically.

Brad Smith
Professor of Law
Capital University Law School

I don't think it's really a corruption issue at all. Simply one of..consistency?

"If they attack us, it means we're winning." - Rush Limbaugh

Not just to bring the Senate in line with everyone else, but also because electronic filing would reduce paper usage, which would be more environmentally-friendly. Not a reason to pursue it? I disagree. It may not be the biggest one, or the overriding one, but little things like this help detract from our party's bad image when it comes to the environment, which more and more (at least for people I talk to) is a big blocker on independents voting Republican.

Liz Mair is the editor of WWW.GOPPROGRESS.COM, a RedState-style blog for libertarian, mainstream and moderate Republicans

Back in North Dakota, the Democratic state party insisted on turning in hard copies of campaign finance reports, hoping that a delay of a few days would cause reporters to lose interest. Often seemed to work.

The party in N.D., by the way, is a top-down, Dorgan/Conrad operation, so they were following the Senate example.

Anyway, right on, Mike.

527 committees report their contributions and expenses to the IRS. It's supposed to be done electronically. However, paper reports are also accepted. But the paper never seems to be keypunched, or even correctly labeled.

For example, a 527 recently ran TV ads against Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez. If you search the IRS's electronic database for the organization's contributors, you find a single donor: The IBEW for $10,000 in its second-quarter report. The first-quarter report was filed on paper. The type of report and date submitted are labeled "N/A." Open it up, though, and you find $45,000 in contributions from the Democratic Governors' Assn., and $20,000 each from the SEIU and and AFSCME.

Anyway, if we're going to get this stuff fixed, let's fix it all. Hopefully by restoring the First Amendment and repealing every campaign law enacted since 1974.

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