Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act of 2009
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|Article summary (how summaries work)|
The Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act (S.482), sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) along with a bipartisan cross-section of 28 other senators, would require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically to the Federal Election Commission. It is the same bill introduced by Sen. Feingold in 2007; that legislation, S.223, was approved by the House of Representatives, but Nevada Sen. John Ensign (R) blocked it's movement in the Senate (see below).
The Act would replace the system currently in use in the Senate, where paper forms are submitted by senators. FEC staff then manually enter the information from the forms into a database. Advocates for the legislation argue the process is costly to the government, and point to the House's history of filing campaign finance reports electronically as an example of speedy disclosure.
As with similar legislation introduced by Sen. Feingold in the 110th Congress, S.482 is the target of an effort by a Republican senator to block the legislation. Sen. Pat Roberts (Ks.) is attempting to insert an amendment that would force outside groups to disclose their donors if that group files an ethics complaint against a senator.
|Summary (how summaries work)|
|Republicans placed several "anonymous holds" on the prior version of the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act during the 110th Congress, and tried to prevent the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 (an important reform bill) from entering conference unless a "poison pill" amendment was attached to S.223. Later, Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) placed his hold on the bill, preventing it from consideration by the full Senate.
Support and opposition
Organizations including the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) and the Sunlight Foundation have publicly supported the bill. CFI argues that the U.S. Supreme Court [in the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo (424 U.S. 1)] declared that one of the fundamental purposes of disclosure is to make important information available in a timely fashion, before an election, so that voters can use the information when making their election choices. This objective, according to both CFI and Sunlight, is frustrated by the absence of mandatory electronic disclosure for Senate elections.
No arguments have been articulated publicly in opposition to this bill's provisions.