Tester introduces bill to modernize Senate campaign reporting, save money
(U.S. SENATE) - Senator Jon Tester this week introduced bipartisan legislation to improve transparency and save taxpayers money by modernizing campaign finance reporting.
Tester's bill requires all U.S. Senate candidates to file their quarterly campaign finance reports electronically with the Federal Election Commission. Candidates currently only have to file paper reports with the Secretary of the Senate, leading to delays that prevent documents from being publicly available online for months.
Tester, who began voluntarily filing his FEC reports electronically in 2011, says that Montanans hold their elected officials and candidates to higher ethical standards.
"This common-sense bill allows folks to know right away who's funding political campaigns and reflects the accountability and transparency Montanans expect from our elected officials and candidates for public office," Tester said. "It's 2013 and high-time for the Senate to bring its campaign finance reporting into the 21st century."
Tester's bipartisan measure will also save taxpayers nearly half a million dollars every year and make government more efficient by cutting waste.
Tester noted that under current campaign finance reporting rules, reports filed as early as July could be unavailable to the public until well after an election in November.
"Following an election year that saw more than $6 billion in political contributions, ensuring electronic accountability for who finances campaigns is needed now more than ever," said Ellen Miller, co-founder and executive director of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation. "Senator Tester's commitment to bringing the Senate into the 21st century through the reintroduction of the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act is an important step in creating greater transparency."
Senator Max Baucus is also a co-sponsor of Tester's bill.
"We have a responsibility to make every effort to bring more sunlight and accountability to our elections. Add to that streamlining government and saving taxpayer dollars and this bill is a no-brainer," said Baucus, who has voted for every piece of campaign finance reform that has come before him.
Tester introduced a similar measure in the last session of Congress, with the Senate Rules Committee holding a hearing on the bill in April of last year.
Tester, a strong advocate for greater transparency in government, was the first Senator to post his daily public schedule online. His Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act, co-sponsored by 25 other senators, is available online HERE. Video of Tester's hearing is available online HERE.